Sunday, November 13, 2011

Penn State Scandal

The events surrounding the child molestations at Penn State University have shocked the nation. How could the football team's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, have gotten away with such heinous crimes for so long?

In the wake of the disclosures, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says his state needs to change its law so that alleged incidents of child abuse are immediately reported to government authorities. Let's make that the law of the land.

Sandusky is charged in a grand jury report with assaulting eight young boys over a 15-year period between 1994 and 2009. Some of the assaults took place on campus both during and after he coached at Penn State. Sandusky's attorney says he disputes the report.

But in 2002, graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the showers of the athletic facility, yet he did nothing to stop the attack. Rather, McQueary waited until the next morning to inform Penn State Head Football Coach Joe Paterno, who then brought the incident to the attention of the school's athletic director.

Why didn't McQueary try to stop the attack? Why did he wait until the next morning to report it? Why didn't he inform the campus police? Why didn't Paterno immediately inform the campus police? What did the athletic director do with the information? Why did it take so many years for law enforcement to be informed of the allegation? Why did it take nine years for Sandusky to be indicted? How many of these molestations could have been prevented? Are there more victims?

The failure of all those in the know to immediately act is inexcusable. Now charges have been filed against Penn State Athletic Director Timothy Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz for failing to report the abuse to authorities and misleading investigators. But the prosecutors determined that a legal duty to report the alleged abuse did not apply to McQueary and Paterno.

Paterno is a legendary figure in college football; he is an icon. He turned Penn State into a football powerhouse and a hugely profitable program. Paterno was fired last week along with the school's president, Graham Spanier, following the release of the grand jury report. After reporting the incident, McQueary was promoted to a full-time assistant coach. On Friday he was put on administrative leave, and he is now reportedly in protective custody.

Penn State has been rocked by the scandal. This past Saturday, tens of thousands of fans filled Penn State's football stadium to cheer on their team. It was the Nittany Lions first game in decades without Joe Paterno. Before the opening kickoff fans and alumni, along with members of both teams, observed a moment of silence to honor victims of the sex abuse scandal. Penn State fought valiantly throughout the contest but lost to Nebraska 17-14.

How are the innocent victims of the horrendous abuse dealing with this scandal? This case will take a long time to be legally resolved. But the victims will carry their scars for the rest of their lives.

Tragically, thousands of children are the victims of sexual abuse in this country each year. Yet how many cases are never reported?

Governor Corbett said on Fox News, "What I saw was a failure to act, and I always have said your actions speak louder than your words."

It is now time for action.

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