By Steve Infanti:
As we continue to learn more and more about the sex abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State University, it is amazing to me how people are defending Joe Paterno. This story has dominated the conversation recently on our radio show “Upon Further Review.” The opinion we keep hearing from our callers is that since Coach Paterno did report allegations of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse to his superiors back in 2002, he doesn’t deserve any blame. Let me get this straight. One of your grad assistants says he just witnessed your good friend and long-time defensive coordinator sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in the shower and you feel your only obligation is to tell your boss? How about you call the police? How about you confront that man, Jerry Sandusky, and ask him what he has to say about the allegations? How about you follow up with your athletic director to see if anything is being done? How about you cut ties with Sandusky and refuse to let him bring young boys to your practices from that moment on?
Joe Paterno did none of the above. He turned a blind eye, passed off responsibility to someone else, and went about his business. Meanwhile, a number of young boys were allegedly being abused by Sandusky over the course of several years. The initial report says eight boys were victimized over the course of a 15-year period, but new information is placing the number of victims closer to 20.
Think about it. If Paterno had knowledge that one of his assistants was fixing grades to keep players eligible and he did nothing about it … he would be fired. If Paterno had knowledge of recruiting violations by his staff and did nothing about it … he would be fired. Joe Paterno had knowledge of something nine million times worse and he did nothing. How can you not agree that he should have been let go?
We had a 55-year-old man call the radio show the other day. He told us that he was molested by a man in a position of authority when he was just a boy. He said that for the last 40 years he’s been dealing with the fear and trauma from that nightmare. That caller suggested that not only should Joe Paterno have been fired, but that he should face criminal charges. His story certainly puts things in perspective. It reminds us that this isn’t about a Hall of Fame football coach losing his job. It’s not about protecting a program or a brand or a legacy. It’s about kids whose lives will never be the same. Joe Paterno could have tried to protect them – he SHOULD have tried to protect them, but he didn’t … and that’s why he’s out of a job.