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Penn State Scandal Raises Questions of Pennace

By Casey Fisk
On November 17, 2011

   As Americans go, and possibly as far as human beings go, with our innate curiosity for gossip and polarizing issues, who doesn't love a good scandal? It would seem that no one loves the most recent scandal to rock not only the collegiate or regional realm of news, but national news as well. The controversial allegations of child abuse, 40 criminal counts to be exact, brought against former Penn State football's defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky led to the firing of head coach Joe Paterno and the college's president Graham Spanier. The allegations are detailed, disturbing, long-standing, and it would appear in and no way unfounded - but of course this is America, where every man, woman and child is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. I will, however, lay out the facts surrounding the case.


   Jerry Sandusky became the defensive line coach at Penn State in 1969. Eight years later, in 1977, Sandusky founded a charitable organization, The Second Mile, to benefit at-risk youth, more specifically young boys. Since its establishment, more than 100,000 children are presumed to participate annually in programs associated with the organization. Between 1994 and 2005 Sandusky allegedly sexually abused eight young males between the ages of eight and 13 whom he met through his organization. In 1998 recounted to his mother that earlier in the day Sandusky had showered with and touched him in an inappropriate fashion. The incident was brought to the attention of the university police by the mother of the boy, and an investigation ensued.


   No formal charges were ever filed against Sandusky. In fact it was not until 2002, long after his retirement as defensive coordinator in the summer of 1999, that Sandusky even lost locker room privileges. The epicenter of the entire Penn State sex scandal is one incident in March of 2002 when graduate assistant Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Sandsusky performing leud acts on a boy no older than 10 in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on Penn State's campus.


   McQueary informed head coach Joe Paterno of the incident the next morning, and Paterno informed Penn State's athletic director, Tim Curley. The severity of the acts McQueary witnessed are significantly downplayed in Paterno's retelling of events, and neither Curley nor Gary Shultz, the senior vice president for finance and business, report the incident to authorities. It was not until 2009 that a formal investigation of sexual abuse against Sandusky began, another two years before Sandusky was arrested on Nov. 5, 2011. On the evening of Nov. 9, the Board of Trustees announced that Joe Paterno and Penn State President Grahm Spanier would be fired, and the riots began.


   Penn State students took to the streets, sidewalks, grasses and rooftops of their campus and rioted throughout the night, tipping over cars and hurling rocks at law enforcement, not in utter outrage and disgust at their administration's fundamental pitfall in handling the allegations against Sandusky dating back to the 80s, but rather because their beloved football team's head coach would not be allowed to see out the rest of the season. I am in no position to judge the character of these students, but I think their judgment was clouded and their blind support of Paterno in this situation was shocking, not to mention their energies misguided. Joe Paterno was a fixture at Penn State for over 60 years, and his presence will be greatly missed. I do not doubt that he has contributed much to the athletic department at Penn State, but in looking at the facts, a clean sweep of everyone involved in this atrocious scandal is understandable. If anything I think that Paterno and the other men aside from Sandusky who were forced into association with Sandusky's alleged actions were just as horrified as the rest of the nation was. As a college student and someone (who clearly remembers being 13 years old) , I cannot understand anything, especially athletics, being more important than the innocence of a child.

   It is fair to mention that students held a candle light vigil in the wake of the scandal and have been wearing blue ribbons to raise awareness of child abuse in America. However, the violent uprisal of students in opposition to Paterno's release portrays their overall view as misunderstanding and neither believing nor caring that Paterno played a significant role in this scandal by not being more adament in helping to bring Sandusky to justice. One can only hope that in the years to come future employers and college applicants will not remember the riots of students and their motivations but rather the actions of the man who sparked the scandal in Happy Valley.

   In no way do I suspect that the rioters at Penn State support Sandusky or turn a blind eye to child abuse; but, while students vehemently support Paterno, the victims of Sandusky's alleged sexual abuse have suffered silently for years, just as silent as Paterno, McQueary, Spanier and others were.


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