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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The End of an Era at Penn State

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

Yesterday an era came to an end at Happy Valley when the Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was summarily fired by the universities board of trustees. Paterno, the most successful coach in the history of college football was fired after serving the Penn State athletic program for 46 years as the head coach on the Nittany Lions due to his inactions in the sexual molestation scandal now plaguing the university. In addition to the dismissal of Paterno the university’s president Graham Spanier was given the boot.

The Penn State University's Board of Trustees announced late Wednesday10paterno-5-articleLarge night that it had ousted school president Graham Spanier and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno, amid a child sex abuse scandal under their watch involving a former assistant coach reports Fox News:

“These decisions were made after careful deliberations and best interests of the university as a whole," said John Surma, vice chairman of the university board, during a news conference held following the board's meeting.

"The past several days have been absolutely terrible to the Penn State community," Surma said. "But the outrage is nothing compared to the psychological suffering that took place."

"The past several days have been absolutely terrible to the Penn State community," Surma said. "But the outrage is nothing compared to the psychological suffering that took place."

"I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees' decision, but I have to accept it. A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value," Paterno said in a statement after the announcement.

"I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt," he continued.

Tom Bradley, an assistant coach and defensive and cornerbacks coach, has been announced as the interim head coach ahead of Penn State's Saturday game against Nebraska.

Paterno's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, is accused of molesting at least eight boys between 1994 and 2009.

The status of a witness to one of the alleged acts, Mike McQueary, remains unchanged. At the time McQueary was a graduate assistant, and currently is a receivers coach for the team.

"I am heartbroken to think that any child may have been hurt and have deep convictions about the need to protect children and youth," Spanier said in a statement after his firing. "My heartfelt sympathies go out to all those who may have been victimized. I would never hesitate to report a crime if I had any suspicion that one had been committed."

"Penn State and its Board of Trustees are in the throes of dealing with and recovering from this crisis, and there is wisdom in a transition in leadership so that there are no distractions in allowing the University to move forward," he continued. "The acts of no one person should define this university."

Before the announcement, Paterno announced Wednesday he will retire at the end of the season, saying, "I wish I had done more" to help the victims of alleged sex abuse by his former assistant.

"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case," Paterno said in a statement obtained by Fox News. "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief."

"It is one of the great sorrows of my life," Paterno said. "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

In a related column in the New York Times Maureen Dowd, a person I rarely read and for the most part never agree with, wrote:

So I’ve got to wonder how the 84-year-old coach feels when he thinks about all the children who look up to him; innocent, football-crazy boys like the one he was told about in March 2002, a child then Anthony’s age who was sexually assaulted in a shower in the football building by Jerry Sandusky, Paterno’s former defensive guru, according to charges leveled by the Pennsylvania attorney general.

Paterno was told about it the day after it happened by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant coach who testified that he went into the locker room one Friday night and heard rhythmic slapping noises. He looked into the showers and saw a naked boy about 10 years old “with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky,” according to the grand jury report.

It would appear to be the rare case of a pedophile caught in the act, and you’d think a graduate student would know enough to stop the rape and call the police. But McQueary, who was 28 years old at the time, was a serf in the powerfully paternal Paternoland. According to the report, he called his dad, went home and then the next day went to the coach’s house to tell him.

“I don’t even have words to talk about the betrayal that I feel,” the mother of one of Sandusky’s alleged victims told The Harrisburg Patriot-News, adding about McQueary: “He ran and called his daddy?”

Paterno, who has cast himself for 46 years as a moral compass teaching his “kids” values, testified that he did not call the police at the time either. The family man who had faced difficult moments at Brown University as a poor Italian with a Brooklyn accent must have decided that his reputation was more important than justice.

The iconic coach waited another day, according to the report, and summoned Tim Curley, the Penn State athletic director who had been a quarterback for Paterno in the ’70s.

Curley did not call the university police, who had investigated an episode in 1998 in which Sandusky admitted he was wrong to shower with an 11-year-old boy and promised not to do it again. (Two years later, according to the grand jury report, a janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in the showers and told his supervisor, who did not report it.)

Curley waited another week and a half to see McQueary, who told the grand jury that he repeated his sodomy story for Curley and Gary Schultz, a university vice president who oversaw campus police.

Two more weeks passed before Curley contacted McQueary to let him know that Sandusky’s keys to the locker room had been taken away and the incident had been reported to The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky started in 1977.

Prosecutors suggest that the former coach, whose memoir is ironically titled “Touched,” founded the charity as a way to ensnare boys. They have charged Sandusky, now 67, with sexually assaulting eight boys he met there.”

Jack Cashill writes in American Thinker:

“Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and Kansas City bishop Robert Finn share a fate they would not wish on their worst enemies: both stand accused of not reporting the sexual exploitation of children in their respective bailiwicks.

Paterno lost a job he has held for 46 years. For Bishop Finn, the stakes are even higher. He could lose his freedom. A headline last month from U.K.'s Daily Mail says it all, or seems to: "Catholic Bishop becomes most senior U.S. clergyman to be arrested after being charged in child porn cover up."

In both cases, the outraged callers and bloggers wonder how authorities like these could have turned a blind eye to such horrors. They assure themselves that they would have done the right thing, even the heroic thing, and done it pronto. This same impulse has convinced many of us that we would have been the one German to resist Hitler or the one Virginian to challenge slavery.

Bull. Having investigated any number of controversial cases, and gotten to know personally several high-level whistle-blowers, I can assure the Monday morning quarterbacks that at least 95 percent of them are wrong. When faced with an unanticipated quandary, the average citizen will revert to what is culturally comfortable and institutionally appropriate. It is only the heroic few who will make the right call.

Of the two cases, the Penn State case is easily the more egregious. In 1998, a concerned mother called the local police to report that veteran Penn State linebacker coach Jerry Sandusky was showering naked with her son. The authorities met with Sandusky. He promised not to do it again. Case closed.

In 1999, Sandusky retired from Penn State after 32 years with full honors and continued access to the sports facilities. These he would use for himself and for the troubled kids in a nonprofit he founded called "The Second Mile." In 2000, a janitor saw him commit a sex act on a boy at Penn State, told his supervisor, and there the case apparently died.

In 2002, 28-year-old graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw Sandusky having sex with a boy in the shower. Let us call this the "McQueary moment." Talk show callers are sure that they would have directly intervened or at least called the police. McQueary did neither. He called his father, who told him to leave the building.

The senior McQueary informed Paterno the next day in person. Paterno promptly told his athletic director and a senior vice president. They would tell the grand jury that they were under the impression that Sandusky and the boy were merely "horsing around." They have been indicted for perjury. In its collective wisdom, the university banned Sandusky from using the facilities. That was it.

In the secular world of Penn State, where celibacy is obsolete and sin a cultural memory, there had to have been a good deal of confusion as to whether Sandusky's behavior was as evil as it seems from a distance. A week before Finn's indictment and a month before Sandusky's arrest, for instance, director Roman Polanski received a lifetime achievement award and a "10-minute standing ovation" at the Zurich film festival. As the audience knew, Polanski had fled the United States in 1978 after having pled guilty to drugging and anally raping a 7th-grader.

American audiences have proved no more enlightened. The same year that McQueary spotted Sandusky in the shower, Polanksi released The Pianist, for which he received an Oscar in absentia and a standing ovation from the Hollywood worthies.”

Mr. Paterno has stated that he is devastated by these events and wishes he had done more to prevent them. I wonder, however, whether he has a real understanding of exactly what injuries—from a psychological standpoint—he could have prevented.

I am not defending Joe Paterno. When a child is made to participate in a sex act with an adult, it leads to intense feelings of fear and guilt and betrayal, which can easily color his or her entire existence.

These feelings are often suppressed. Hence, they can crop up in devastating ways later on: in the inability to trust any authority figure, in a tendency to avoid feelings at all, in literally slipping away from reality (dissociating), in attempts to suppress memories and feelings using alcohol and illicit drugs, in attention deficit disorder, in major depression, in sexual disorders and in suicide.

But, the hypocrisy in the media is evident. Like what is happening to Herman Cain the media and so called pundits are jumping on a man who has served his University with honor and dignity for 46 years. Paterno did tell his superiors of the case that was reported to him and they basically ignored him. What did they expect him to do, go to the press or the police. What evidence did he have? He had the report of one person. What would he have told the police? Would he have told them that another person told him he saw a man sexually abusing a child? What police would he have told? The Campus police, the State police?

I have no truck with Joe Paterno, but I do believe it is shameful for a man who committed no crime, nor is being charged with any crime to be treated by the media and his university in such hypocritical manner. We have a pension to demand more from others than we would give ourselves.

Suppose someone came to you and reported he saw someone sexually abusing or harassing someone. What would you do? Would you go to your boss or the police? You have no evidence. You are making a hearsay report. Paterno did go to his superiors and report what was told him by a person who was told by someone else what he saw. This is not only hearsay, it’s a double dose of hearsay.

Joe Paterno holds more bowl victories (24) than any coach in history. He alsopaterno640 tops the list of bowl appearances with 37. He has a bowl record of 24 wins, 12 losses, and 1 tie following a defeat in the 2011 Outback Bowl. Paterno is the only coach with the distinction of having won each of the current four major bowls—Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar—as well as the Cotton Bowl Classic, at least once. Under Paterno, Penn State has won at least three bowl games each decade since 1970.

Paterno has led Penn State to two national championships (1982 and 1986) and five undefeated, untied seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, and 1994). Four of his unbeaten teams (1968, 1969, 1973, and 1994) won major bowl games and were not awarded a national championship.

Now a man who is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and 409 career victories will be remembered in the same category as O.J. Simpson. The cowardice and hypocrisy of the Penn State Board of Trustees and the media is appalling.

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