Never mind Paterno … how about the victims?

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Being a great coach is not an excuse for essentially ignoring a child molester in your own backyard.

There are times when I miss having a newspaper column. I’ve missed it quite a bit the last few weeks with a couple of larger-than-life stories circulating: Missouri going to the Southeastern Conference, and the hideous scandal at Penn State.

The latter is one of the most disgusting, disturbing and disappointing stories I’ve followed. Not because it might potentially cripple one of the nation’s best football programs, or because it will tarnish longtime coach Joe Paterno’s legacy.

It’s a terrible story because of the victims. The young men allegedly victimized are the story here. I say allegedly because Jerry Sandusky still has the right to a fair trial. All the evidence, and there’s a ton of it, points to the former Penn State defensive coordinator being a sexual predator who used his charity – Second Mile – to find his victims.

Jerry Sandusky, right, was seen working out in the football facility just days before the scandal broke.

A week after the scandal broke, dozens of young men and boys have come forward and said Sandusky violated them. You name it, it’s in the grand jury report. Everything from inappropriate touching to using Penn State’s football facilities to sodomize pre-teens.

As I type this, breaking news scrolls across the screen: Paterno, in the middle of his 46th season as the Nittany Lions’ coach, is being fired. This just hours after he announced that he would resign at the end of the season, one in which Penn State is 8-1 and battling for a BCS bowl bid.

All of this a day after students flocked to his home to support the 84-year-old coach. Talk about misguided. Paterno may have been a great coach, but he completely failed as a man. Like many others, including his athletic director and president, Paterno could have stopped Sandusky years ago.

Paterno should have contacted the police in 2002 after a graduate assistant informed him that he’d walked in on Sandusky raping a boy in the shower facilities at Penn State. How many more children suffered as a result of this negligence?

Penn State’s solution in the wake of the 2002 incident? Tell Sandusky not to bring kids with him to the football facility. In other words, do your worst elsewhere. What a travesty.

Yet, you still read about poor Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who went to Paterno in 2002. He should have gone to the police. You still read about JoePa and his damaged legacy. He should have gone to the police. What about the boys and their damaged lives?

Penn State may never recover from this. Paterno’s legacy definitely won’t. For the next 50 years when he’s mentioned on TV, it’ll come with the tagline “whose legacy was marred by a child molestation scandal and cover-up.”

A small price to pay compared to damage that’s been done to the lives of dozens of young men and boys.

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6 thoughts on “Never mind Paterno … how about the victims?

  1. It’s a very sad story indeed. Simply reporting something that’s taking place right under your nose isn’t good enough in this situation. These are kids being violated. Not books being stolen. Great blog Ernie.

    • Ernie Webb III

      Thanks, Tina. It really is a sad story. Probably the biggest scandal in the history of college football. Reminds me a little of the Baylor scandal about 10 years ago.

  2. Donna Hinkle

    I absolutely agreew with you EB3. Well said. These boys are the victims and many people knew about it and turned their heads.

    • Ernie Webb III

      It’s very disturbing. A lot of weird stories around it, too, like a missing DA six years ago and a missing player in the 1990s.

  3. I’m glad you said it. Paterno did more than just ignore this–He enabled the rape of these boys. Regarding McQueary, what kind of a man is he to see a boy being molested, and only report it to an administrator!! No direct action? No mention to the cops? No shock and follow up when you see nothing was done about it?

    My sense is that the cover up is deeper than just Paterno and the school administration ignoring things. Time will tell.

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