Sex Abuse Scandal: Why Were Penn State Officials Silent?

By the end of this week, both Graham B. Spanier, the president of Pennsylvania State University, and longtime football coach Joe Paterno could both be out of their jobs, according to three officials with ties to the university’s senior leadership. Both Spanier and Paterno are fast losing the support of the university’s Board of Trustees, which will hold a closed-door meeting on Thursday.

Last Friday,  charges of molesting at least eight children over a 15-year period against former Penn State defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, were announced. Trustees, apparently angry at the university’s response, held emergency meetings late on Saturday and again on Sunday; some trustees had only learned of the charges via the radio or family members. On Monday, both Penn State’s athletic director, Timothy M. Curley, and the university’s senior vice president for finance and business, Gary C. Schultz, announced that they were stepping down.

Both Paterno and Spanier enjoy widespread popularity but, in the wake of a scandal about the sexual abuse of children in the university’s football facilities, support even for the winningest coach in college football history is fast waning. At stake is what Paterno did or did not know about a 2002 assault of a young boy by Sandusky.

In explaining his actions, Mr. Paterno has publicly said he was not told of the graphic nature of an alleged 2002 assault by the assistant coach Jerry Sandusky of a young boy in the football building’s showers. He said the graduate assistant coach who reported the assault, Mike McQueary, said only that something disturbing had happened that was perhaps sexual in nature.

But on Tuesday a person with knowledge of Mr. McQueary’s version of events called Mr. Paterno’s claim into question. The person said that Mr. McQueary had told those in authority the explicit details of what he saw, including in his face-to-face meeting with Mr. Paterno the day after the incident.

Sandusky came into contact with the eight boys whom he allegedly abused via his Second Mile foundation, which he established for needy children. His name is as entwined with Penn State’s football program as Paterno’s; Sandusky was at one time considered to be a candidate to replace Paterno as head coach. Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, have adopted a number of children and took in many foster children so that it was “not uncommon” for him to be seen at Penn State football functions and elsewhere with young children.

Mystique and mythologizing run deep about Paterno. He has been at Penn State since 1950, starting as an assistant coach planning to pay off his student loans at Brown University where he studied English literature after graduating from Brooklyn Prep, a Jesuit high school. Paterno became head coach in 1966 and “has been widely credited with helping elevate the Penn State football program and the rest of the university from a local enterprise into a national brand.” Penn State’s endowment grew to $1 billion from virtually nothing during Paterno’s years and his name is attached to everything from the endowed chairs for professors to a library to an ice cream flavor. He has been lauded for his “Grand Experiment”; for a football program that not only brought home two national titles in 1982 and 1986, but that also could boast of a high graduation rate and “education-first ideals” among players.

The Pennsylvania attorney general said on Monday that Paterno was not part of an ongoing criminal investigation. But the sex scandal casts a dark shadow over his long career of success at Penn State. Whatever Paterno knew or did not know, why did he, why did no one at Penn State, alert the police and all the more so as a child was involved?

Related Care2 Coverage

Penn St Officials Head to Court on Perjury Charges

Is It “Sexual Harassment” Or “Sexual Assault”?

The Sex Abuse Scandal and the Church That Did Not Know Right From Wrong

Photo by acaben


Eric B.
eric b6 years ago

Everyone from the president of Penn State must be convicted because they were all silent and sent to prison, The PA Gov., States's attorney and Jerry need to be left in a room with the parents of there victims and water boarded untill there no longer a threat to human society.

Frances C.
Frances C6 years ago

Good one! Stephen.....

It is the same old, same old.... The good ole boys club. Just like the priests cover up. Just like the Herman Cain corporate cover up.

Stephan B.
Stephan B6 years ago

Sooo....the coaches from Penn State are headed to the State Pen??

Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

This is so terrible. Always when i hear about terrible things it makes med sad, and i cannot understand how someone could do something terrible - hurt, rape or kill a person or animal. When i was a child this also happened to me... and surviving this is more terrible than not (parents and other may think different, but a victim?), living with all this pain... living with guilty feelings... full with hate for the own self
No one can understand, because most people cannot imagine this, cannot imagine how much it change. Some of them think, that this would not be so terrible, because all would make some sexual experiences, and so it would not matter if there were some without own interest or wish. This cruel and superficial society makes me sick.

I know that it is not good to wish someone who does terrible things something as a punishment. But when i hear about violent people then i think why are they so "afraid" to go to someone equal and get some hits for their selves. This is a perversion, to think being more a man when beating a woman or a girl. This men are a shame for all normal men.

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Xil Lidom
Xil L6 years ago

Chemical castration for pedophiles and rapists NOW

james s.
james s6 years ago

All the coverage I've seen is about Penn State and how they are dealing with this, mostly about their pride, how they prayed before the game with the other team and how they are all "one" The support they are showing for this coach who allowed this to continue, the molesting of children, without reporting it. Unbelievable. They are treating him like a GOD. All the banners waving in support of him at the game, I think they should not have been allowed. And still no one is talking about the RAPE, Molested children. It really goes right along with the Occupy movement for the fact that the previlaged not anly don't pay their own share, they don't pay the consequences for their actions or lack of. How do you think this would have been handled if the MOLESTER would have been the male janitor and child was a daughter of the head coach and the witness who conspired to cover it up was a teacher assistant. Totally different reaction yet the same crime.

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago

Why is it that protecting institutions (Penn State, the Catholic church) is more important than protecting children? The leaders of these institutions should be in jail.

Melanie Simms
Melanie Simms6 years ago

Parallel this with the Federal Law Suits against Shippensburg University another PA State College and you will understand how bad its gotten-- Shippensburg has been sued multiple times for violation of Student Speech Codes and Freedom of Speech rights against students; if students try to express their opinions or speak against a teacher or the school they risk retaliation and being ousted. Google it and you'll see what I mean-- this idea of "the code of silence" is prevalent everywhere-- they want control and power AT ANYONES EXPENSE.

Melanie Simms
Melanie Simms6 years ago

As a caveat; parallel this incident with the Shippensburg University Freedom of Speech Code violations and you'll understand how PA has gotten this bad. If you try to stand up for your rights of speak your mind you get ousted or worse...

Melanie Simms
Melanie Simms6 years ago

Those in power care more about protecting their industry and their name than they do the victims who represent for them not a single dime. They get into thinking that the university is more about one person and so they can manipulate the law anyway they want as long as its doing more good by remaining unscandaled. Also they have alot of influence in the courts and with the media and police and so its easier to remain silent. What DISGUSTS me is that nothing was followed up outside the university chain. But thats common. All too common. Even if Corbett gets the law changed, and God bless him for trying, its only a modicum of success. The bigger issue here is protecting the innocent from power hungry vultures who will do anything at the expense of anyone to keep their power and influence. We also have to protect those that report the law; too often if a poor person (I dont know what MsQuery's financial power was at the time) reports an incident they are left open to threats and legal attacks that they cant afford to fend off. Trust me there is no legal help out there if you are disenfranchised-- which is why the poor have no voice to speak. This is a good ol'boys mafioso attitude around here... and not just here, but worldwide. What a wake-up call huh? I just pray those boys get millions of dollars in settlements and that their suffering brings about change in how we look at the law, and in how we protect "whistleblowers".