It doesn't take much to raise the outrage I felt over Jerry Sandusky's abuse of young boys while the Penn State football gang looked the other way, but at least there's comfort in justice. Unfortunately, too many victims become victims twice when the crimes committed against them go ignored and silenced.
Notre Dame: Justice Ignored
In The Nation, Dave Zirin writes about the differences and similarities between Penn State and Notre Dame's football program, and the silence surrounding what appears to be a rape culture inside a cone of silence:
At Penn State, revered assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was raping young boys while being shielded by a conspiracy of silence of those in power at the football powerhouse. At Notre Dame, it’s not young boys being raped by an assistant coach. It’s women being threatened, assaulted, and raped by players on the school’s unbeaten football team. Yet sports media that are overwhelmingly male and ineffably giddy about Fighting Irish football’s return to prominence have enacted their own conspiracy of silence.
As unbeaten Notre Dame prepares to play in tonight’s national championship game against Alabama, the sports media have chosen not to discuss the fact that this football team has two players on its roster suspected of sexual assault and rape; two players whose crimes have been ignored; two players whose accusers felt harassed and intimidated; two players whose presence on the field Monday night should be seen as a national disgrace.
In 2010, Lizzy Seeberg was a freshman at Notre Dame. Lizzy was, among other things, a brand-spanking new member of the College Republicans and a good conservative girl. She also suffered from anxiety attacks.
Only a month after her freshman year began, she was sexually assaulted by a Notre Dame football player. She reported the assault, and submitted to evidence collection. Then she waited. And waited.
I think the NCAA statement summed it up well. Penn State is only the most egregious example of a sports program that has outgrown and overshadowed the academic mission of a public university. I don't believe they're the only school that has looked the other way at questionable and even criminal activities, and I don't believe the taxpayers have either a moral or a financial responsibility to supply a farm system for the NFL. We have some very real problems in our economy right now, and it would be nice to see academia placing their full attention on them.
As to the tearful Penn State students seen crying as the news was announced, I would like to offer some motherly advice: Don't pick your college on the basis of its sports teams.
(Reuters) - The governing body of U.S. college sports fined Penn State University $60 million and voided its football victories for the past 14 seasons in an unprecedented rebuke for the school's failure to stop coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said the school had put "hero worship and winning at all costs" ahead of integrity, honesty and responsibility.
Penn State was not given the so-called "death penalty" that could have suspended its football program but it was banned from post-season bowl games for four years and had the number of scholarships available to players reduced from 25 to 15.
Penn State officials were accused of not taking action after being alerted that Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was sexually abusing children. The scandal tainted one of college football's leading coaches, the late Joe Paterno, and led to his firing last year along with other top school officials.
The punishment, announced by the National College Athletic Association at a news conference in Indianapolis, was unprecedented for its swiftness and breadth. It was the latest blow to an institution still reeling from Sandusky's conviction last month on child molestation charges.
The case was another blotch on the diminishing legacy of Paterno, who until Monday's action had held the record for victories among big-time U.S. college football coaches in a career that spanned more than 40 seasons. Paterno lost that status since the NCAA's punishment includes voiding the Nittany Lions' victories between 1998 and 2011 - the time period covering when allegations against Sandusky were first made and Sandusky's arrest.
The Paterno family said on Monday the NCAA's actions "defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best."
"This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public's understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did," the statement said.
Actually, I think it's a rational response to the public's understandable revulsion at what Joe Paterno didn't do.
Will Bunch has a long memory for Pennsylvania politics, and in his latest post, he points out that the FBI finally had to come in to investigate the finances of a politically-connected cyber schools operator -- whose activities were pretty much ignored in an investigation by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett (who's now our Scott Walker clone of a wingnut governor). He's also famous for taking three years before the state prosecutors finally brought charges against Jerry Sandusky.
If you're a political junkie, you've probably heard of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. It figured prominently in a scandal that helped end the Senate career of Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum. It was the thriving online learning center -- launched in a foundering ex-steel town on the Ohio border called Midland, Pa. -- that was taking $38,000 a year from taxpayers in the blue-collar Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills for the home-schooling of five of Santorum's kids, who lived two states away in an affluent Virginia suburb.The arrangement made Santorum look bad (for one thing, he'd been elected to Congress in 1990 by attacking an incumbent... for moving to Virginia) but it also gave some folks pause about the millions of dollars that Pennsylvania was beginning to hurl into cyber-charter schools -- schools that are getting the same public dollars as bricks-and-mortar charter schools, even through their cost of educating each child is much lower. But the flow of public cash to the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter empire founded by entreprenuer Nicholas Trombetta surged despite the bad publicity in the Santorum case, and despite news in 2007 that a state grand jury was probing the convoluted financial dealings of Trombetta, a GOP donor.Nothing ever came of that 2007 probe. You may have heard of the state's attorney general back then, a chap by the name of Tom Corbett.By 2010, the massive flow of money to the Trombetta cyber-empire -- which now included a baffling array of for-profit entities -- began to draw notice. According to a report in Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the state........ pays tens of millions of dollars a year to a network of nonprofit and for-profit companies run by former executives of the state's largest online public school.The relationships between the Beaver County-based school and those businesses were a concern to former Gov. Ed Rendell's administration, which late in its tenure asked PA Cyber for better accounting of its payments to spin-off entities. Gov. Corbett's Department of Education, though, opted early on to let the relationships continue without heightened accountability.There's that Corbett guy again! Anyway, someone has finally stepped in. Not the state of Pennsylvania, of course. The job fell instead to the feds:On Thursday agents from the FBI, the criminal investigations division of the IRS, and the U.S. Department of Education searched the school's headquarters in Midland, its accountants' office in Koppel, and properties rented by its spin-offs in Ohio.The investigation appears to be aimed at current or former executives of the school. PA Cyber "as an entity, is not a current target," U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton's office said. Regardless of the direction of the investigation, PA Cyber demonstrates a consequence of the state's charter school revolution: the emergence from schools of profit-seeking spin-offs.This news come as a) evidence mounts that cyber-charters, in spite of -- or maybe because of -- their ability to generate profits, do a poor job of actually educating children (PDF) and b) the state of Pennsylvania is thus racing to apporve more cyber-charters.
Meanwhile, here's another example of Corbett's kid-glove handling of the politically connected, via CasablancaPA:
Here's how tough and relentless Jonelle Eshbach was in getting to the truth:
"[The] state investigator was a fan: If that was the culture that permeated Penn State, could it have affected the investigation by state attorney general’s office? Jonelle Eshbach, the senior deputy attorney general who interviewed Paterno, several of Sandusky’s victims and Penn State officials when they appeared before the grand jury, has not been shy about her loyalty to the late coach. After Paterno’s divisive firing, her Facebook page showed she took a survey about the board’s decision. Her page says she answered that she would have let Paterno finish the 2011 season, then retire as he planned. Freeh’s team concluded that Paterno’s firing was warranted. Eshbach didn’t return a message at her office. Attorney general spokesman Nils Frederiksen declined to comment on it...When she interviewed Paterno, Eshbach specifically told him to explain what he knew about the McQueary incident, 'without getting into any graphic detail.' She also never followed up when Paterno hinted that something about an earlier claim might have been discussed in his presence prior to that. 'You did mention — I think you said something about a rumor. It may have been discussed in my presence, something else about somebody,' Paterno said at the grand jury. 'I don’t know. I don’t remember. I could not honestly say I heard a rumor.'” (Patriot News 7/12/2012)
"While the current Sandusky investigation was in its second year, Corbett spent much of his time focusing on the sweeping public corruption inquiry of Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg nicknamed “Bonusgate.” He also crisscrossed Pennsylvania campaigning for governor, pledging to cut runaway spending and 'restore trust in Harrisburg.' State campaign records show he accepted contributions of nearly $650,000 from current and past board members of Second Mile and their businesses."
It was highly unlikely that he was going to be acquitted, but it's a relief that it's over. (It was a little weird for me to watch the news coverage - the last time I saw top prosecutor Joe McGettigan, I was in high school and he was the surfer-dude big brother of my best friend. Now he looks exactly like his father did then, and that means I must be old. But I digress.) I hope that Penn State's administrators have enough conscience to revamp their system to prevent such institutional blindness again. But weighing the well-being of children against a powerhouse football team that was a money magnet? They didn't have a chance until this story finally broke out into the open:
(Reuters) - A jury found former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky guilty on 45 out of 48 counts in his child sex abuse trial on Friday.
Sandusky was seen escorted out of the courthouse in handcuffs. He could be sentenced to hundreds of years in prison.
The decision came after about 21 hours of deliberation over two days by a jury of seven women and five men. Nine of the 16 jurors and alternates had ties to Pennsylvania State University, and the final days of the trial drew large crowds to the Centre County Courthouse.
A large crowd gathered outside the Centre County Courthouse in central Pennsylvania to learn news of the decision. A cheer went up outside as the news was released.
The white-haired former coach faced 48 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period, sometimes at Penn State facilities.
In May of 2009, as President Barack Obama prepared to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court, he let something terrible slip--something that could threaten the very fabric of our civilization! He would try and pick a new judge for our highest court that possessed "empathy," or the ability to identify “with people’s hopes and struggles” when making decisions that would intimately affect their lives.
Predictably, right wingers from Senator Orrin Hatch to former Republican National Committee Chair (and lobbyist for every destructive interest in existence) Ed Gillespie were just beside themselves, hissy-fitting at the outrageous notion that someone who actually cares about people might become a sitting justice on the High Court.
It is this degradation of American culture since the Reagan Years--on steroids in our current Citizens United Era as corporations have become people (and were almost granted zygote status in Mississippi!)--that says the only healthy emotions are the ones that highlight one's personal greed and lack of compassion for others. This is the cultural sickness that has been on full display for all its misanthropy this past week.
The most egregious example occurred in University Park, Pennsylvania, with the growing and nausea-inducing scandal engulfing Penn State University. No, our culture didn't create the pedophilia of former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Sadly, this has been with us since the dawn of time.
But the greed of a big college football program and the fortune and fame it creates allowed it to go on for years. This certainly played a defining role to decisions made by everyone from an assistant coach who witnessed Sandusky's anally raping a 10-year old in the shower to the lack of action by the university's president to the post-2002 Rick-Perry-memory hole of the sainted (now) former coach Joe Paterno.
All of them spent at least a decade, perhaps closer to 15 years, covering up the behavior of a serial-child rapist. One who used their reputations and facilities to both locate his victims and commit his crimes.
For these men in positions of power, "greed was good," a lesson learned by the lunkheaded Penn State students who chose to "riot" Wednesday evening upon news of Paterno's firing by the Penn State University Board by turning over a car, breaking windows and performing other acts of mass stupidity. For them, being able to party hardy post-victory and continue the cult of Paterno was more important than the lives of potential peers violently victimized by a beast.
The personal responsibility touted by these protectors, and in particular Joe Paterno--rock-ribbed Republican friend of the Bushs and former Pennsylvania Senator turned presidential candidate Rick Santorum--was no match for the avarice their politics and personal-belief system would seem to espouse. The Pennsvlvania right winger, who sponsored the Republican-registered Sandusky for the Congressional Angels in Adoption" award, based on the non-profit he founded to provide care for foster children (see: target them), was still defending Paterno, last we heard.
So in case you're scoring at home, to Santorum being gay is terrible, because homosexuality is just like "pedophilia." But if the person performing or covering up child rape is a friend, pedophilia's a-ok. So does that mean Santorum supports gay rights--as long as the non-straight in question is a friend of his?
This has been a another edition of Deep Thoughts with Rick Santorum.
I don't know a lot about football, but I know a fair amount about abuse and abusers. Abusers take away the lives and innocence of their helpless victims and do it with no remorse. You cannot listen to this interview with Jerry Sandusky without knowing in the pit of your stomach that his answers do nothing but strengthen his victims' case against him.
Bob Costas did a great job of confronting Sandusky with the accusations brought forward in his accusers' Grand Jury testimony, but Sandusky didn't do an especially great job of defending himself. This is because there is no defense for the kind of allegations he faces. Honestly, there were points in this interview that made me ill, because Sandusky's responses were typical dodges.
Take, for example, his answer to the direct question about the incident in the shower with the 10-year old boy. Costas spared nothing, reading straight from the grand jury testimony, including the "rhythmic slapping" description. It was graphic and horrible. This is Sandusky's response:
"We were showering and horsing around and he [the boy] actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel," Sandusky said. McQueary's allegations were never reported to the police.
In one of the more sickening parts of the interview, Sandusky gave his account of the event witnessed by assistant coach Mike McQueary, who says he saw Sandusky raping a 10 year-old boy in the shower at Penn State. Unable to explain why McQueary would lie about such a thing, Costas asked Sandusky what did happen when McQueary encountered him and the boy. Just in case anyone doubts the veracity of Sandusky’s version, he helpfully uses the term “actually” twice, just to underscore the actualness of what actually happened. Sandusky told Costas, “Okay. We were showering and horsing around, and he actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel, horseplay.”
The term "horsing around" is one with some pretty strong sexual connotations. While it's often used as a substitute for the term "horseplay", meaning rough-and-tumble behavior, it's also used as a euphemism for play with sexual connotations, due in part to the actual biology of horses and their sexual behavior. Sandusky uses it more than once, particularly when discussing his showers with those young boys. But to Sandusky's lawyer, Joseph Amendola, it's all just "jock behavior."
One of the reasons why voters haven't called for the head of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is that he rarely speaks to the press - he does what he does in the shadows, so he doesn't mouth off enough to get people riled up. I didn't expect him to add much to the Penn State story on This Week with Christiane Amanpour, and I wasn't surprised:
AMANPOUR: So an eventful week on the campaign trail, but not enough to eclipse the story that continues to shock America, the unfolding scandal at Penn State, the outrage of a revered coach and esteemed university president looking the other way as an alleged pedophile preyed on children.
Yesterday, the Nittany Lions took to the field for the first time since the sordid story spilled into the open. Before kickoff, a moment of silence, as players dropped to their knees in recognition of the young victims. The Lions lost the game, their first without Coach Joe Paterno. And this morning, emotions on campus and around the state remain raw.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was the attorney general who began investigating accused sexual predator Jerry Sandusky, and he joins me now from Harrisburg.
Governor, thank you for joining me.
CORBETT: Thank you for having me on, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Let -- let me just ask you, why do you think it took this sort of public shaming for the university to finally act? Why do you think everyone, basically, hid this thing for so long, from the president to Coach Paterno?
CORBETT: Well, Christiane, first, I have to put on the record that it's hard for me to talk about a lot of the -- the past. We have to look to the future, because I was the attorney general involved in the investigation. I have certain ethical rules that I have to follow.
But I would note that the board of trustees has appointed Ken Frazier to lead the investigation, along with my secretary of education, to determine exactly the question that you're asking. What happened? Why did it happen? And most importantly, how does the university move on from here?
I think that you saw yesterday a very good outpouring of support for everyone. When those two teams came together and, really, that whole stadium came together with those two teams.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me -- let me ask you, because this is obviously massively serious. And I understand your ethical and legal obligations. However, don't you think that the mere risk that somebody who you've been investigating for more than two years, the mere risk that he could have continued to abuse during this investigation, demanded a call to the police? Should that not have been, at the very least, something that the coach, that the president should have done?
CORBETT: We would have expected law enforcement to have been involved much sooner than it got involved. And as you know from newspaper reports, our office, as the attorney general became involved, not in a case related to the university, but in a case from a next-door county, Clinton County, and a school there, where Mr. Sandusky was helping out as a coach.
AMANPOUR: Do you think others are going to be held accountable? How far up do you think that this should go? Do you think Coach Paterno is going to face legal issues?
CORBETT: Well, as you know, again, Attorney General Linda Kelly has already said at this point that he's not a subject of the investigation. And she stopped at that point.
When you have investigations like this -- and I'm not going to talk about this one -- but the one thing you learn when you're conducting investigations is that, as people face charges, they may start to cooperate, they may start talking about different things. The investigation is an ongoing one. So, because of that, I can't make projections or speculation as to where this may go.
It all reads like an overheated John Grisham novel: A trusted football hero and director of a respected child refuge center is charged with sexually assaulting eight young boys for over a 14 year period. An assistant coach who was an eye-witness to the anal rape of a ten year old boy and rather than trying to stop the crime, or even report it to the police, instead told his boss, a legendary head coach, who along with a university president and his athletic director, covered it up. A district attorney who mysteriously disappeared six years ago, his body never found, before he could bring charges against the child rapist. A rapist who also – if rumors turn out to have any basis in truth – pimped out children to other pedophiles. And, rather than outrage at such evil finally coming to light, in a town so inculcated in a culture where football is king and so fearful it might lose its meal-ticket, the student body riot in protest when the head coach is fired. In a state where congressmen can still nominate said disgraced coach for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, turning a blind eye to the corruption riddling his university team until they simply can’t.
Except it’s not a novel. This is Penn State.
When universities become so dependent on athletic departments for their very existence, to the point where nothing – nothing – seems vile or heinous or repugnant enough to shake that iron grip, then there is something desperately wrong with American universities. When any game becomes so powerful that football coaches can play God to entire towns, cover-ups this massive are blatant and where so many people knew and did nothing, when students riot after the filth lurking under rocks start to come out not in protest of the crime but in reaction to the loss of their beloved coach, then Penn State needs to be shut down.
Completely. Dismantled, not a brick left standing. Salt poured on the ground so nothing grows there again. This isn’t just a case of a single bad-apple, not just a small, isolated or one-off event. A man raped children while his friends deliberately covered up his crimes. For years. All in the name of protecting football. The extent of depravity metastasizing an entire town because of the power embedded in one university’s athletic department is on a scale hard to imagine, never mind stomach. The Penn State football program has lost the right to continue to exist.
In a massive shakeup, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier were fired Wednesday night by the board of trustees amid the growing furor over how the school handled child sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach. The longtime coach, the winningest in major college football, was ousted at the end of day that began with his announcement to retire at end of the season, his 46th. It was not to be. "The university is much larger than its athletic teams," board vice chair John Surma said during a packed press conference.
I've been following this horrifying story for some time now, but was so sickened by it that I couldn't put any words down about it until now. Penn State University, the community and the country has been rocked to their core as more facts come out about the Jerry Sandusky child rape case.Here is a timeline of events if you're not familiar with the case yet. Heads are rolling and although university officials are doing their best to shield Joe Paterno, he's certainly next. After Penn State canceled his press conference, it was pretty clear he won't be coaching their next game against Nebraska. In fact, as this post was being written, Paterno announced that he was retiring, a sad final note to his legendary career. However, it gives the Penn State officials an easy out, instead of firing Paterno, Sandusky and all the other program officials who did nothing once they found out that children were being raped.
"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief," Paterno said in a statement released just after initial reports of his pending retirement.
I'm sure the kids who were abused and raped by his friend and heir apparent are the ones who are really devastated and all of Joe's prayers will not comfort them. The time was years ago to give them justice and to stop any more innocent children from having their lives ripped apart by a vicious predator he knew all too well. How could anyone turn a blind eye to Sandusky's behavior?
As miserable as these attempts to minimize Paterno’s disgraceful conduct are, what can one say about McQueary’s? In 2002, McQueary was a powerful young athlete, just a couple of years removed from NFL training camps. It’s possible, I suppose, to make some sort of excuse, based on the effects of shock and disgust, for his behavior in that locker room, where instead of coming to the aid of a ten-year-old boy being raped by a 58-year-old man, he fled and called his father.
The point of lingering over McQueary’s decision to value his potential for career advancement over stopping a serial child rapist from continuing to find and parade his victims in front of McQueary’s face isn’t that McQueary (along with the rest of the actors in this saga) is some sort of inexplicable moral monster. It would be nice to think so, but consider that his despicable behavior merely mirrors that of his head coach, his athletic director, and his university’s president, who all made, and continued for years to make, essentially the same decision to value their careers over stopping little boys from being raped by a man they had worked with for years, and who they allowed to continue to walk among them every day. The point of calling out McQueary’s physical and especially moral cowardice is to remind us how we are all capable of sinking so low, if we do not remind ourselves constantly, in whatever way is most useful for each of us, of the truth of Samuel Johnson’s remark that, “courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.”
It's easy to come up with excuses and rationalizations after the fact. But when it comes to young children not only dealing with the sexual abuse but the authorities of the school ignoring such horrific events, the actions by all parties involved is just unconscionable.
After hearing news of the firing, Paterno released a statement, saying: "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."
A source close to former Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno tells CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian that the Paterno family is shocked and outraged over the university's handling of the firing....read on
The family is upset at the way the university handled it, but they should be upset at the man that withheld valuable information about a pedophile.
Video below the fold of the press conference announcing Paterno's termination. I'm surprised it took them this long.