Penn State Scandal Shows Lack of Moral Courage
Too many cowards who could have stopped this sex abuse did nothing.
Editor's Note: Mike Jones is the local editor for Chartiers Valley Patch.
I couldn’t help but recoil in disgust as I read the state attorney general’s grand jury presentment alleging the rampant sexual abuse of children by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
But it wasn’t the awful, graphic details of the alleged crimes that made me sick.
No. What disgusted me was the endless number of people who could have stopped the abuse throughout the years and either did nothing or passed the buck to someone else. After reading the grand jury’s report, I have no doubt this abuse could have ended more than a decade ago if those in power had done their job.
And this isn’t just an indictment on Penn State officials and the football program, even as the Board of Trustees unanimously voted Wednesday night to fire Joe Paterno. The events that led to his dismissal should have never taken place if those who knew of these accusations more than a decade ago stepped up to the plate.
This story has a human cost, and not only affecting the alleged victims. It is a sad reflection of our society and people not making the right decisions to help – maybe save – the young boys who were victimized. What a poor reflection this is on all of us.
It is a sad story of cowards with a lack of moral courage.
Why did the Centre County district attorney refuse to prosecute Sandusky in 1998 after two University detectives said they overheard Sandusky admitting to showering with a young boy. We’ll never know the answer because the district attorney, Ray Gricar, went missing in 2005 and recently was declared dead.
Why did Thomas Harmon, the director of PSU’s police department, close the case even as detectives continued to investigate a subsequent attack. How could police let this (alleged) monster walk free with only the promise that he wouldn’t shower with young boys again? Sandusky conspicuously retired from his coach position the following year. It makes you wonder if the investigation worked its way up the PSU chain-of-command.
In 2000, a janitor cleaning up the practice facility’s locker room told his boss he witnessed Sandusky performing a sex act on a young boy in the showers, according to the grand jury report. The Korean War vet said it was one of the worst things he had ever seen, but he never reported it to authorities. He was not bound by Penn State officials to keep his mouth shut.
All of this leads us to the final question.
Why did grad assistant Mike McQueary not immediately stop the alleged action when he testified to witnessing Sandusky having sex with a 10-year-old boy in 2002? Even if McQueary didn’t intervene because he was so disturbed, why didn’t he contact police. After that, we get into the chain-of-command discussion that has embroiled football coach Joe Paterno and the university.
But this goes beyond a cover-up scandal involving Penn State. It strikes at the heart of people not having the moral courage to do what is correct.
And that is more striking than the unceremonious end to a legendary coach’s career.