With the release of the “Report of the Special Investigative Counsel Regarding the Actions of the Pennsylvania State University Related to the Child Sexual Abuse Committed by Gerald A. Sandusky“, there can no longer be any doubt that Joe Paterno was morally, ethically and, perhaps, legally culpable in the whole sordid affair. Writing for a different website at the time, I covered the story extensively.
When news of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal first broke, I was writing (under a different name) for a different KSU website. I covered the story extensively. I took a particularly aggressive tone regarding Paterno, writing the following.
Paterno’s moral obligations clearly went unmet, and for that, he should pay with his job and his reputation…It beggars belief that [a man of Paterno['s] stature and experience [did] not understand that [his] actions during this tragedy have been indefensible.
My story went on to note that:
…morally speaking his silence over the last nine years has cost many young boys their childhood. He will have to go to his grave knowing this, and perhaps that will be the worst punishment of all, for a man who has preached honesty and integrity for so many years.
Paterno was fired shortly thereafter, and died of lung cancer on June 22, 2012, taking the memories of what he did and did not do during that allowed Sandusky to continue his serial molestation of little boys. The Freeh Report leaves no doubt that Joe Paterno specifically, and Penn State at large, were morally, ethically, and legally at fault for what they allowed Sandusky to do to those young boys.
From the Penn State perspective, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that they could cease to exist as a going concern. The Big Ten would kick them out, and their football program would face the barren wasteland of life as an independent pariah. And if they should lose their university accreditation–and with their complicity in allowing the Sandusky affair to continue as long as it did, that’s not entirely unlikely–the fact that their donor base believes blindly in the school will not matter. The school itself will die.
And it should.
The school, Paterno, Spanier, Curley, and all the rest allowed their fears of bad PR to drive a cover-up that extended from top to bottom of the university. That cover-up was one of the primary reasons that at least ten little boys lost their innocence to Jerry Sandusky. While there is no way to bring that innocennce back for those boys–who are now young men–the men and the university need to pay the highest possible price. Joe Paterno paid with his legacy and, possibly, his life. Other individuals will pay a heavy legal price.
The university might well–I say, should–pay with its existence.