Paterno, Penn State Had “Total Disregard” For Sandusky’s Victims

“Total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims”: An independent report about the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal accuses top university officials of nothing less. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized,” says Louis J. Freeh, the former federal judge and director of the FBI who oversaw the report.

Superstar football coach Joe Paterno (whose passed away in January), former university president Graham Spanier and a number of other officials are all accused of deliberately covering up facts about Sandusky sexually abusing children in the Penn State football facilities. Last month, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is expected to serve a life sentence.

The report clearly states that Penn State officials feared for the reputation of the university and, in particular, of its powerful college football program, to the point of treating the safety of children as of secondary concern:

“In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity… [top university officials] repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the board of trustees, the Penn State community and the public at large.:

The investigation took seven months during which more than 400 interviews were conducted and more than 3.5 million documents reviewed.

Reports Makes Clear What Paterno and Spanier Knew

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published some parts of the report, with annotations. Page 15 clearly states that Spanier and the university’s board failed in their duties:

“By not promptly and fully advising the Board of Trustees about the 1998 and 2001 child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky and the subsequent Grand Jury investigation of him, Spanier failed in his duties as President…The Board also failed in its duties to oversee the President and senior University officials in 1998 and 2001 by not inquiring about important University matters and by not creating an environment where senior University officials felt accountable.”

On May 3, 1998, the mother of an 11-year-old boy informed a Penn State psychologist and Penn State police that Sandusky had groped her son in a Penn State athletic facility. Penn State vice president Gary Schultz was informed, the Chronicle reports:

Confidential notes from Mr. Schultz indicate that he was aware of the gravity of the situation. “Behavior – at best inappropriate @ worst sexual improprieties,” one note says. Two days after the incident, additional notes from Mr. Schultz say that a second boy had told police a similar story: “Locker room. Wrestling. Kissed on head. Hugging from behind in shower.” The notes end with questions: “Is this the opening of pandora’s box? Other children?”

Even before 1998, staff members and coaches at Penn State routinely saw Sandusky showering with boys in a Penn State locker building, says page 40. Former coach Richard Anderson told investors that he “didn’t think the practice was improper.”

Notes written in 1999 and apparently in Paterno’s handwriting refer to Sandusky’s retirement from Penn State in 1999, says the report‘s page 57.

“If there were no 2nd Mile then I believe you belief [sic] that you probably could be the next Penn State FB Coach. But you wanted the best of two worlds and I probably should have sat down with you six or seven years ago and said look Jerry if you want to be the Head Coach at Penn State, give up your association with the 2nd Mile and concentrate on nothing but your family and Penn State.”

After an incident of Sandusky abusing a boy in the Penn State locker room in 2001, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Spanier did not speak to the 2nd Mile and the state Department of Welfare but decided to meet with Sandusky first, says page 75 of the report. In an email, Spanier said that this approach is “humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”

Paterno’s Letter Seeks to Undermine Freeh’s Investigation

The report will certainly have repercussions for Penn State’s legal liability to Sandusky’s victims, to the already-tarnished legacy of Paterno, to the world of college sports and to Penn State University itself.

On Tuesday, Paterno’s family issued a statement meant to undermine Freeh’s investigation. Paterno had been “eager to tell all he knew about the university’s dealings with Sandusky and had admitted to having failed to do more to stop Sandusky.” But the letter then asserts that Sandusky’s crimes and Paterno’s and the university’s failings were not a “football scandal”:

Regardless of anyone’s opinion of my actions or the actions of the handful of administration officials in this matter, the fact is nothing alleged is an indictment of football or evidence that the spectacular collections of accomplishments by dedicated student athletes should be in anyway tarnished.

This statement only further dims Paterno’s legacy and that of the Penn State football program. The abuse happened in the university’s football facilities. Sandusky gained access to so many children due to his position as a Penn State coach, via his 2nd Mile charity. Not only Penn State coaches but the university’s athletic director and top university officials including the president knew about the abuse of children on university grounds and failed to contact authorities. The money brought in by the football program under Paterno and, yes, Sandusky, has not only benefited athletics. It has endowed professorships and is in countless ways intertwined with Penn State’s academic community.

The Sandusky sexual abuse scandal is a football scandal that the university’s leaders sought to hide.

It is a Penn State scandal.


Related Care2 Coverage

Leaked Emails Implicate Paterno in Sandusky Cover-Up

Sandusky Could Collect Pension in Prison

Sandusky Guilty of 45 Out of 48 Counts of Child Sex Abuse


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Lyn B.
Lyn B.3 years ago

What continues to horrify and disgust me is the complicity of those around Sandusky. Yes, he IS THE monster but that monster had MINIONS who obviously and willingly did his bidding in the name of greed and football.
I'm sure none of them will serve jail time but they should have to, the same way if you were complicit in a robbery or murder.

There's so much more I could say but I feel worn out emotionally and spiritually by this nightmarish topic. I wish all the survivors (don't want to call them victims) peace. And I hope they can at the very least sue all the major villains in this, (including the school because the football profits/alumni (football related) monies are all tainted) to their last penny.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago

Joe Paterno was a cowered when it came to protecting the kids. Keep the statue and let it stand for what Penn State holds dear. Keeping their mouth shut when they knew what was happening and did NOTHING to stop it.

Katie K.
Katie K.3 years ago

To know and ignore that a child is being abused makes that person just as guilty. What if it had been one of their children? It's largely possible that his buddies children were also abused. Maybe these children should be asked.

Kimberly J.
Kimberly J.3 years ago

I'm not surprised at all about this. Football at major colleges & universities is a cash cow to be protected at all costs. If a team goes too many years without a winning season, the head coach is fired & another one brought in. Why? Because alumni will not give big $$ to a school with a losing football team. It's the same at the high school level too. What other sport receives so much TV coverage? I don't see college baseball, basketball, tennis & soccer getting all that coverage. Sure, they show the basketball playoffs & finals, but other than that, there is no coverage because those sports aren't the cash cow that football is. Those sports don't even rate cheerleaders and/or the marching band. I'm willing to bet that there is something dirty going on in almost every major college/university football program. Until football is no longer king of the sports, I'm afraid that this will not be the only scandal uncovered.

Stop & think about it for a minute. One high school where I live won the state football championship 3 years in a row. Everybody remembers the name of the quarterback but nobody remembers the name of the band member who won a full scholarship to study music at Julliard. I know about it because I read it in the paper last year.

My heart goes out to those poor kids that Sandusky abused while Paterno, et al, looked the other way. I pray that this isn't going on in other colleges/universities where football is king.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

"Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage. He lives ... by make-believe." ~ W. Somerset Maugham.

Walter G.
Walter g.3 years ago

I just had a better idea, instead of banishing the statue, put a large, functioning brass shower nozzle ofe rthe statuel, and change the background galloping football jocks to young men with towels wrapped around them.

Walter G.
Walter g.3 years ago

I just had a better idea, instead of banishing the statue, put a large, functioning brass shower nozzle ofe rthe statuel, and change the background galloping football jocks to young men with towels wrapped around them.

Walter G.
Walter g.3 years ago

This is the result of substituting gamesmanship for education. What PS has left now is a cancer running deep into the embarrassed shell of their system which will take a far greater fix than banishing a statue. All of this staff and far more who turned their attention away from the homosexual rape and worse have commited criminal fraud by omission. Until PS is cleaned by a steady stream of the responsible from its campus to prison, PS will be held in no higher esteem than the Roman Catholic Church's homosexual rape mess! This can't help but bring to question what goes on in the showers at Notre Dame and Seaton Hall. Many might say that these 'dirty little secrets' don't affect them, and directly they may not appear to. If hnowever one day you have need of a professional and that pro failed to get the degree needed due to crappy colleges' football worship, you may think it over. How many serious professions require football?

s. r.
p. q3 years ago

joe paterno played up his "kindly old man" persona on tv. but he was a coward of the very worst sort. the 9th circle of dante's hell is reserved for traitors:

"The traitors are distinguished from the "merely" fraudulent in that their acts involve betraying a special relationship of some kind. There are four concentric zones (or "rounds") of traitors, corresponding, in order of seriousness, to betrayal of family ties, betrayal of community ties, betrayal of guests, and betrayal of liege lords."

i think that paterno betrayed his community, the "family" of penn state, and each and every underage "guest" in the locker room. (yeah, not so sure about liege lords.)

Carl Oerke
Carl O.3 years ago

Penn State had always had the reputation of scholar athletes and integrity. The reports of the football scandal and those involve lead us to believe that the financial cash cow was more important than the lives and well being of children in need of protection. Joe Paterno's statue is and forever will be deeply tarnished even before it was exposed to the elements. The University talked the talk but did not have the guts, the courage, the determination to walk the walk. Sadly, those who attend or have graduated form Penn State will be tarnished by association also.