Joe Paterno Likely Did Not Know in 2002 What We Know About Jerry Sandusky Now
Now that more and more details about Jerry Sandusky’s sexually abusive past are being revealed, people are becoming more and more upset. They’re getting angry. They’re getting outraged. And their blind rage is causing them to become irrational. When people get as upset as they are now, they often look for scapegoats. Joe Paterno, because he is such a widely known and widely revered figure, has become that scapegoat. Most of it may be undeserved.
First off, one serious problem here is that many people have shifted the blame from Jerry Sandusky to Joe Paterno. It’s like people are forgetting who the real monster is. Jerry Sandusky is the person alleged to have sexually abused multiple young boys over a long period of time. If you want to be angry with someone, be angry with him.
He’s allegedly been abusing young boys for over 15 years. Is Joe Paterno the only one didn’t do enough here? The Penn State university police had an incident reported to them in 1998 and didn’t charge Sandusky. What about all the people at The Second Mile, Sandusky’s organization intended to help troubled young boys. Did they ever suspect any wrongdoing or do anything about it? What about all the parents who sent their children to be with him? Should they all be fired as parents for allowing their boys to sleep at Sandusky’s house? What about Sandusky’s wife, who allowed the abuse to take place in her home? Why didn’t she stop any of it?
One big reason is because plenty of people were fooled by Sandusky. Either that, or because they did not know. If they weren’t, this would have been stopped a long time ago. We showed you a video from 2007 where the public perception of Sandusky was that he was an excellent community man doing wonderful things for young kids. Given that was the perception of him, it’s no wonder everyone is shocked and stunned over what’s transpired. Additionally, most people don’t look at every person they come across as a child sex abuser. If you do, that’s an unfair judgment to make about someone. Even if you’ve heard something about someone, if you’ve known them to be a good person for 30 years, would you immediately believe it’s true? Maybe you’d have some doubts.
But one extremely important factor people are overlooking when evaluating the situation is that the people involved 10 years ago likely did not know what we now know about what Sandusky has allegedly done.
We have a different perspective because we’ve heard all the stories. In 2011, we’re hearing that he allegedly abused 20 young boys. We got to read everything in one story and learn how Sandusky abusing boys in the shower allegedly was a regular thing. But when each person witnessed the events in the shower, it was an isolated event. Did they know that this was a regular occurrence?
The high school wrestling coach who saw Sandusky wrestling with a young boy was probably suspicious, but was that enough reason or evidence to call police? Should the janitor who saw the oral sex in the shower have done something? Yes. Should Mike McQueary, who says he saw an anal rape in the shower, have done more to stop it? Of course. Should Joe Paterno have followed up after reporting the incident to his superiors? Of course.
It’s not like Joe Paterno did nothing. Maybe he didn’t feel equipped to handle the situation. He should have followed up, he should have spoken with Jerry Sandusky if he did not. But if Joe Paterno knew at that time what we know now (that 20 boys were abused), I’m sure he would have done more. I’m guessing most people involved would have done more if they knew what we know now.
You have to put yourself in the shoes of each person involved before you start calling for peoples’ heads. What would you have done? Would you have done more or done things differently? Nobody wants to hear that 20 boys were sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky, but you have to remember that those people likely did not know this back in 1998, or 2000, or 2002. If they did, they likely would have taken serious action to stop it.
The point is that you should consider these factors before blindly screaming for people to lose their jobs and entire reputations. The athletic director and vice president should be fired for doing very little. Joe Paterno should have done more. But his entire reputation should not be destroyed over this.
You’re angry, and you’re even more upset because the people abused were innocent children. Just remember to direct your anger at the appropriate channel: the alleged sex abuser, Jerry Sandusky. And remember to at least learn something from this. Everyone, regardless of their position in life, should report and stop serious crime when they see it.
Also see: Why was 1998 Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse investigation called off? Did Joe Paterno and the football program know about this in 1998 and cover it up for 13 years?