Tag Archive: Joe Paterno


The Unbearable Truth

What can you sleep with in the world?

Are there situations that are mildly bothersome or others that keep you up at night?

Some days when I watch the news, I get bothered and aggravated.

But the big issues that are getting my attention right now are Penn State and the Colorado  theater shooting.

Penn State supporters are crying foul over the results of the Louie Freed investigation. They are not sure if the investigation was done thoroughly enough. And the sanctions handed down by the NCAA seem overly punitive.

I guess losing $60 million, one year’s worth of income, along with $13 million that would have been received because of bowl game appearances seems like a lot of money. But keep in mind that this was money being earned for one single year. Paterno and other offiicials protected Sandusky since 1998 – that is thirteen years – so that their program would not get bad publicity and lose revenue.

13 x $73 million = $949 million

That is a lot of revenue. But compare that to the number of victims, compare that to the number of lives that were on the edge that were made more precarious. Sexual abuse is known to cause depression and other psychological  problems as an immature mind tries to rationalize what is happening.

We do not yet know the full number of victims but I am willing to guess that they do not think $949 million will ever make up for the pain this abuser caused those boys. What is apparent is that Joe Paterno knew his friend was doing bad and he is did nothing to stop it.

What has to hurt more, really stick in the craw of Penn State supporters is that Joe Pa knew. He knew about the 1998 investigation, he kept a close watch of it according to email records. The man who was hailed for running what was purported as one of the cleanest football programs turned out to be just the opposite.

He worked with local police to keep players out of jail. When workers at the college tried to do things the right way he had them fired. A janitor who witnessed abuse by Sandusky was terrified for his job if he talked about what he had seen.

These are FACTS that can be found in the Grand Jury indictment and the Freed report. I know there are people who question the validity of the former FBI director’s ability to really dig up information but who did you want to to the investigation instead? Mike Wallace?

Penn State supporters need to accept what has happened. Football became so big, so important that the lives of children were deemed disposable. A culture of deception was allowed to continue under the direction of a man whom the rest of the world thought was honorable.  If you accept these sanctions there is a chance Penn State could bounce back from this.

Otherwise, you look like a bunch of stooges who cannot accept the truth that your hero was a fraud. And that is not easy to accept.

Another set of stooges are the ones who honestly believe that the Colorado theater shooting could have been averted if guns were allowed into that theater, legally.

As most of us may know by now, Colorado is one of 49 states that allow conceal-and-carry gun ownership. Each state is different as to where they allow those guns and Colorado does not allow them in theaters. That particular theater company had signs posted stating no guns were allowed.

But let’s say there were guns allowed, for argument sake. Let’s imagine what might have happened. What if there were people carrying guns seated around the theater? How do you think it would have turned out?

With the smoke from the tear gas and people in various states of standing and sitting, it is my guess that it would have been difficult at best to train a shot on the shooter. I heard one person state on the radio “how hard would it have been? He was at the very front, he would have been illuminated by the screen.”

Maybe it would seem that way if the movie was projected from the back of the screen but movies are projected of the front from a window in the very back of the auditorium. The light would be on top of the shooter AND anyone else who was standing up. Now add in the smoke and jostling of the crowd.

Could you get a clean shot without being shot yourself or hurting another person?

Forget the arguments that we have become a cowardly people. Forget our gun culture or any conspiracy theories coming out. Think about that one question.

Think about that question in the context of random shooting, smoke and people moving you about. This is not a video game exercise or something that can be practiced at the shooting range. Could you do it and not hurt innocent people? What if you did kill a bystander in a shootout? Could you live with yourself?

How would you sleep at night?

 

Living in the Face of Evil

I began writing this post last week. I wanted time to think about every word, time to say things that would later be deleted. But I wanted to know at some point it would be posted, that I wrote how I felt about an evil situation while trying to understand. I am nowhere near to understanding, I might be farther away than I was last week. But this is where I am at this moment on this topic. 

 

Last week, we found out just how horribly a person can operate under the guise of running a charity meant to help kids.

 

Jerry Sandusky, former linebacker coach at Penn State, was indicted by the Grand Jury for 40 counts of alleged sexual child abuse. I need to say ‘alleged’ because he has only been charged so far and not convicted. As we learn more and more about the charges, when you read the actual report, it is sickening.

 

Thanks to Sandusky, every single one of us who work with youth in any capacity are being given a second look because he seemed like a great guy. Here was someone who was well liked and trusted by people. And yet he was a monster that people had seen doing horrible things.

 

Over the weekend, I read columns blaming the coaches, the parents, and those who purposely went after a group of children in a poor socio-economic group – figuring that this group would not make a fuss. The truth is that is only somewhat correct. Not all parents sat back, some reported what happened. A high school staff member made the mandated call. People made reports as they were required. That it took the Grand Jury three years to investigate might mean they had to make sure they had all of the facts right before they stepped into the world controlled by this man and Joe Paterno, aka JoePa.

 

Various Penn State staff members reported what they saw. Fear of losing their jobs might have made them reluctant to talk to more than their supervisor. One person who testified reported seeing Sandusky drive by the building several times, up until 2 in the morning, on a night he was seen doing wrong as if searching for the person who saw him.

 

After listening to a recent This American Life episode called “Petty Tyrant” about Steve Raucci in Schenectady, New York, I feel as if I understand some of the fear the Penn State employees would feel, knowing they would have to go against JoePa’s friend. Not that the lack of action is justified. But it does point out the atmosphere of fear and what it does to people.

 

I have known not one but two child abusers. The first was a security guard at my alma mater. A year after I left school, it was discovered he was raping both of his daughters. His wife was aware of it but did nothing to stop the behavior. Only because one of his daughters bravely reported the abuse did it stop with his arrest.

 

The other abuser was a neighbor. He was charming and friendly, approachable. He and his family were grounded Christians. We were not close friends but our families had a meal or two together. I never suspected, the radar didn’t go off. Then I saw a story in our local newspaper that he has been arrested.

 

He was acquitted. A year or so later they moved away. A year or two after that, he shares pictures through the internet with someone in another state. Now he is arrested by the feds because he crossed one line too many. The feds break into his house with a battering ram. After another year, his wife makes the decision to divorce him, change her last name and the kids’ to her maiden name and move back to her parents’ home in another state.

 

Abusers work to gain the trust and then separate their victims so that they can take advantage. The security guard isolated his girls. Our neighbor held sleepovers at his house like Sandusky did. Unlike Sandusky, our neighbor did not have friends in high places that could protect him.

 

Expect this case to get worse. More victims have come forward, the last total I heard being 17. Questions are going to be asked about a missing DA who disappeared in 2005; they found his empty car, and his laptop with notes on the case was at the bottom of a river. We are going to find out more sickening details as time goes on.

 

In the end, the best case scenario is that this will be one of the worst examples of the 1% taking advantage of their power and money to victimize members of the 99%. But if the rumors of grooming kids for donors are true, the worst could be a human trafficking case involving a top echelon university and a charity whose mission was to help kids at risk.

 

I wonder what I would have done in the face of evil. I hope the right thing and that I would do it without a second thought. After I threw up.