Perhaps I should rephrase that title to say, “No excuses for abuse of any kind” but I would like to address sexual abuse this time around in response to the recent controversies and reports surrounding Penn State University.
I confess I was originally drawn to the story because of Joe Paterno, a man whose football teams I’ve followed since I was a kid. But the more I read about this case and others like this the more revolting sexual abuse, particularly the sexual abuse of children is for me as a father.
I am appalled by the predatory nature of people like Jerry Sandusky, who used his position of power and trust at Penn State to lure children into becoming unwilling participants in his repugnant behavior. So far, Sandusky has been accused of sexually abusing seven boys. If you have been following the story you will know by now that Sandusky has been involved in coaching since 1969 and was at one point in his career, touted as a successor to Paterno at Penn State. Sandusky also founded The Second Mile, an organization that started as a group home in 1969 for troubled boys. At the very least, this man may have been taking advantage of children for over four decades and who knows the real number of victims this man now has in his sordid past.
Sandusky is definitely the villain in this story, but I’m also extremely upset and annoyed with those who had eyewitness accounts of at least two assaults that were not acted upon or reported to the proper authorities. In a third case, a mother reported a crime to authorities and the District Attorney decided not to press charges even after police informed the DA that Sandusky had admitted to the abuse. In a fourth case, a school district did not report a sexual assault on a teenager, but instead chose to simply ban Sandusky from the entire school district. In my mind, those who turned a blind eye to Sandusky’s crimes hold some form of culpability because they did not pursue any of these cases to the full extent of the law.
Was everyone afraid of Sandusky? Was Sandusky so untouchable and above the law that no one wanted to follow through with the allegations? Is the line so fine between a witch hunt and a valid case of abuse that no one in that State thought to listen to the victims, their families or those witnesses who were brave enough to come forward with their stories?
And what of Joe Paterno, the administration and his staff at Penn State? Does anyone else find it suspicious that Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999 at what some may think was the height of his coaching career amid the allegations of his improprieties in 1998?
Forty years! This guy was a predator who had access to young, impressionable and vulnerable children for at least forty years! Those boys suffered then and I can guarantee that they are still suffering today from the emotional and mental abuse of being victimized by someone in whom they had placed their trust.
This case is not the first of its kind and sadly it will not be the last because there are so many more “Sandusky’s” out in the world. I’ve read of at least six cases in the last two weeks committed on Samoan soil where children were been sexually abused. In many of those cases the children were assaulted by members of their own family or by someone with whom they know. So far, only one of those cases has gone to trial, a verdict has been reached and a sentence was issued – four years for assaulting his step-daughter multiple times over a two year span until she finally left home to live with a family member. Four years? I’d call that very lenient in any court or country. As far as I’m concerned it sends a message to other predators out there that you will be out in time to commit the crime again with little more than an admonition and a brief stay in the local prison.
What are your thoughts on the issue? Mine are just thoughts of violence towards another sorry excuse for a human being.