A fork truck showed up on campus at Penn State this week. Like a reenactment of the toppling of Stalin’s bronze effigy as Communism imploded, legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno’s statue was unceremoniously tarped over and carted off to obscurity. The school desperately wants to put its current mess behind it as quickly and quietly as possible, and Paterno’s highly-visible statue has transfigured from an icon of righteous determination and integrity into a symbol of what happens when moral rectitude is sacrificed on the altar of expedience and accommodation.
The facts of the Jerry Sandusky scandal have come out, and they tell a deplorable tale of decades of predatory sexual abuse compounded by obfuscation of truth, obstruction of justice, and most egregiously the aiding and abetting of these crimes by those who knew and refused to act on behalf of the innocent children being victimized. Sandusky has been convicted on forty-five counts of sexual abuse of a minor.
How much damage can one man do? Here is some of the fallout from Jerry Sandusky’s actions:
– Penn State has been fined a record $60 million by the NCAA for violations resulting from Sandusky’s crimes and the school’s failure to follow proper procedures relating to them
– The Big 10 Conference in which Penn State plays has fined the school an additional $13 million dollars
– the Nittany Lions have forfeited all victories from 1998-2011 while Paterno was head coach, including two bowl game victories
– the football program has been banned from any bowl appearances for the next four years
– the school is on a five-year probation from the NCAA and is forfeiting 40 football scholarships over the next four years
– all players are immediately released from their scholarship commitments to pursue football elsewhere
– University President Graham Spanier was forced to resign in disgrace
– Coach Paterno was fired before the end of the 2011 season, and several top-level school officials were suspended, fired or charged with perjury for their roles in covering up the scandal
– Pennsylvania US Attorney Peter J. Smith has launched a full criminal probe into the obstruction/perjury aspects of the case, casting a pall of suspicion over the once-proud institution
– the Department of Education has also launched a probe as to whether the school violated the Clery Act, the federal law making it a crime to fail to report abuse such as Sandusky’s to authorities
– if the Department finds the school culpable ( a virtual certainty), Penn State could be faced with more huge fines and the loss of federal student aid
– Coach Paterno’s legacy as the winningest college coach has been destroyed because of the forfeits, plummeting him from top of the list to 12th place (for all that it matters now)
– one of the most prestigious college football programs in the nation’s history has been reduced to rubble and everlasting shame
– not to mention the dozen or so lives of underprivileged young men and boys that are ruined because of a sexual predator who used his paternal cachet and football prestige to win their trust, so he could violate them sexually and psychologically
One man did this. One man unraveled decades of hard work, integrity, prestige and iconic reputations, entangling his betters in a filthy web of perverted deceit that ultimately ravaged a huge state university and cost upwards of $100 million dollars when all is said and done. One man was that weak brick in the dam, who when pulled loose released all the awful pressure built-up from decades of his compounded misdeeds. The dam finally burst, leveling everything in its path.
Perhaps Edmund Burke put it best when he said, “All that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Whatever “good men” there were at Penn State aware of Jerry Sandusky’s reign of statutory rape certainly did nothing. The same goes for his wife Dotty, who must have willingly turned a blind eye to her husband’s “proclivities”. Twisted as he is, Sandusky still denies any wrongdoing, despite one of his own adopted sons swearing out an affidavit that Sandusky molested him when he was younger.
The Bible says in Luke 12:2-3 “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
One man. One dam. What a mess.