By The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Penn.
It is now clear Jerry Sandusky is not the one responsible for the pain and heartache that has torn through Penn State.
Instead, a long-awaited internal report lays the blame at the feet of former President Graham Spanier, football legend Joe Paterno, the school’s former Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley.
They were aided by a board of trustees and its leadership that abdicated its responsibilities and duties.
Sandusky is responsible for his horrible crimes against 10 boys and will almost certainly, as he should, spend the rest of his life in prison.
He was not, however, responsible for the fact that while he was raping children, the most powerful leaders of the university were more concerned with bad publicity than stopping someone who was a likely child sexual abuser.
Since November, when Sandusky was arrested – along with Curley and Schultz on perjury charges – we were supposed to believe some leaders thought an incident in 2001 was mere horseplay when, in fact, a boy was being sodomized in the showers in the university’s football locker room.
Now we know through the report released Thursday by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that conversations went on about Sandusky, some as far back as 1998 when Spanier and Paterno heard allegations about the longtime defensive coordinator.
The report could not have made their total disregard for children any clearer: “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized,” Freeh said.
As for Paterno, his legacy is permanently damaged.
The report states that the evidence shows that “Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s.”
No one cared about the children.
As for the board of trustees, while there is no proof any of them knew about the abuse, they were happy to sit in the dark.
Even after The Patriot-News first reported the investigation into Sandusky, the board sat back and relied on Spanier to chart the university’s course.
This is the time to aggressively push forward to make sure lessons are learned, true leaders who not only do things right but do the right thing are put in place, that students and children are protected, and that the university is ultimately stronger.
That is how Penn State will ultimately be judged.
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Penn.