"He chose loyalty to the football fraternity over protection of small children. " — Bill LivingstonVery few football schools have academic success rates approaching a perfect one hundred percent. The sports journalists and commercial marketeers like to point out the excellence of those handful of programmes. Over the years, i have seen many televised broadcasts feature prominently a handful of schools again, and again: all the military service academies, Duke, Stanford, Notre Dame, and yes Penn State.
Paterno made his teams successful. His defensive coach Gerald Arthur "Jerry" Sandusky played and started for Paterno from 1963 to 1965. From 1966, and then continuously from 1969 to 1999. Many thought he would succeed Paterno, but Paterno would not retire.
Sandusky turned out to be a sexual predator, who raped pre-pubescent boys. As a predator he needs prey. As so many he used a mask of benevolence, respect and authority to gain access to flesh. We have seen similar modes of operation in charity work. The Boy Scouts, the Churches and others have tried to cover this up, because their 'reputation' is of more importance than their activities.
Father Bruce Ritter received national fame for Covenant House begun in 1972. They took in runaway youth who ended up on the lower east side of Manhattan (NYC). They expanded. Now they are in 15 US cities, and 6 others in 5 North American countries. I remember Ritter on 60 Minutes. Reagan in 1984 mentioned him in the State of the Union address. Edwin Meese put him on the Attorney General's commission on pornography, the next year. Then in December 1989 the sordid story broke, and there were more accusing sexual partners and victims. Ritter resigned from the charity he founded in February 1990.
Sandusky started a charity, The Second Mile, in 1977 as a group foster home for 'troubled boys' in Penn State's college town of State College. The charity has expanded beyond that. Senator Rick Santorum gave him an award in 2002.
Just recently, the news has broken, and there is a pile left to go through (ugly details of great crime and perversion are coming). Local people and institutions knew for years: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, State College Police Department, County District Attorney's Office. Sandusky was free (until now). The head coach, Joseph Paterno was told by an eyewitness of the raping of a ten year old boy, by Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Football Building in March 2002.
Now in very short time Paterno and the college president have been fired. Last night many campus students had a spontaneous riot in support of Paterno. They attacked a television news truck, of course. Attack the messenger of your shame.
In 390 in Thessalonica, the governor and military commander Butheric arrested a great charioteer. The athlete was very popular in the city. The charioteer was also a rapist of boys. He was jailed for attempted sodomite rape. The sports fanatics rose up and killed Butheric and other Goth generals, and mutilated their corpses.
What do we value as a society? Do unnamed, unimportant victims matter?
Postscriptum: in 1988 Joe Paterno gave a speech at the Republican Presidential Convention for his buddy, ghwbush. I lost all respect for the man. But that is besides the point.
Postscriptum 12 November: Paterno is lawyering up with the same criminal defense specialist his buddy, ghwbush, used for Iran-contra, J. Sedgwick Sollers.