Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Paterno & Penn State Look Like Burnt Toast

Much is being written about the incredible, horrific allegations of sexual abuse of minor boys over a more than 15 year period by a prominent assistant football coach at Penn State (link; link).  After reading many reports and comments to the story, the greatest focus with regard to Penn State's culpability is on the events of 2002, at which time an assistant coach alleges to have observed the defendant raping a young boy in a Penn State athletic facility shower and to have reported the observation to his boss, legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who then in turn apparently reported it only internally to his boss, the athletic director, and a senior University administrator.  Police were never called, in violation of the law, reportedly, and certainly of any sense of morality.

However, not much talked about is the fact that in 1998 the defendant was found at Penn State to have engaged in inappropriate behavior with at least one boy and investigations by University police and a prosecutor occurred.  Although no criminal charges were filed, not long after that the defendant retired from Penn State.  He was allowed to keep the perks of a retiree, including an office and access to University facilities, including showers in the athletic department, the site of some later abuse allegations. Notable is the fact that by this time the defendant, besides being a Penn State football coach, was well known to be the director of a youth organization he founded that brought him into daily contact with young, troubled boys, and that such boys were regularly seen in his company.

Joe Paterno, and others at the University, express shock over this whole affair and plead ignorance.  Paterno specifically asserts that when informed of the 2002 allegation he did the right thing by reporting it to senior Penn State officials, and somehow feels his responsibility was limited because his longtime former assistant coach was by then not a University employee. 

However, what's not at all clear is why the defendant suddenly retired in 1998 after the police investigation into abuse allegations at that time, years before the alleged 2002 incident.  If even only some of these allegations are true, then it would appear to me that Paterno and others at Penn State in 1998 realized, if not before then, that the defendant was a child molester, and to avoid embarrassment to the University and the football program they let him retire.  Perhaps in exchange for his silence and perhaps even for a sham promise to stop such behavior they allowed the defendant to keep his access to the facilities. 

If the allegations are verified, it is impossible to believe that the defendant could have had young boys frequently in his company for over 15 years at the Penn State athletic facilities, particularly after the known sex abuse investigation of 1998, without the entire coaching staff and other university officials seeing him and suspecting what he was up to. 

If the allegations are verified, Joe Paterno's name, and that of what may come to scores of other Penn State coaches and university officials, will be mud forever.  My guess is that when all the facts emerge this will come out as a 15 or so year conspiracy of silence involving Paterno and many others to cover up ongoing homosexual rape and other sexual molestation of young boys at Penn State, practically in plain sight.  This whole scandal looks ugly now, and will likely look many times worse before this is all over.

John M Greco

Subsequent Post:
Penn State Still Clueless in Happy Valley
Horror in Happy Valley -- And Trustees Opt for DamageControl

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