If Penn State coach Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier are employed as you begin reading this column, they shouldn’t be by the time you’re finished. For anyone who disagrees, I suggest some additional reading material — the 23-page indictment against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Finding the document isn’t hard, though getting through it without your skin crawling and your blood boiling is impossible. Eight victims are listed, and undoubtedly there are more. A potential ninth victim, a man now in his 20s, came forward over the weekend.
Not that we need further reports to conclude that Sandusky is a monster who was enabled by Paterno, Spanier and two former school officials who have been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected sexual abuse.
Victim 2 and Victim 8 are enough to seal the deal.
They should be the impetus for a new era at Penn State, starting with a new football coach and school president. The current office-holders should have resigned by now, on principle alone if common decency wasn’t enough.
From Page 21, detailing alleged events involving Victim 8: “In the fall of 2000, a janitor named James “Jim” Calhoun observed Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Building with a young boy pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy. He immediately made known to other janitorial staff what he had witnessed.”
From Page 6, detailing alleged events from March 1, 2002: “As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He was a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.”
It doesn’t appear that Victim 8 came to the attention of Paterno and Spanier. But they turned their backs on Victim 2 — never even bothering to learn the boy’s identity — after graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported Sandusky’s heinous act.
Four years earlier, in 1998, Sandusky was investigated by campus and state authorities for inappropriate behavior with a boy at the football team’s practice facility. From Page 20: “Sandusky admitted to showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that it was wrong.”
Yet Paterno and Spanier let Sandusky continue to use Penn State as a hunting ground while he preyed on young boys. Victim 1, who testified that Sandusky performed oral sex on him “on a number of occasions,” was 11 or 12 when they met at Sandusky’s camp on Penn State property in 2005 or 2006.
Sandusky’s access to campus grounds supposedly was restricted after the 2002 incident, a “penalty” approved by Spanier. So much for that defense (he reportedly was on campus last week).
Paterno supporters are correct in arguing that JoePa did nothing wrong in the law’s eyes. He reported the 2002 incident to his superior, as required. “I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention,” Paterno said in a statement released Sunday, his only comment since the scandal broke.
Passing it up the chain met Paterno’s legal obligation, but not his moral responsibility as the face of Penn State football. He’s accountable to the program, not just the police, and if one of his former assistants is sexually assaulting boys in the team’s locker room and showers, it’s Paterno’s business to know — and ensure that law enforcement officers know, too.
Now the sordid mess has become a tragedy of errors, from Spanier giving former university officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz his “unconditional support;” to a spokesman implying that scandal-related questions were off-limits at Tuesday’s scheduled news conference; to school officials canceling the news conference about 90 minutes before it started; to one of Paterno’s son stating the coach was disappointed by the cancellation and was prepared to answer questions on Sandusky.
Pennsylvania’s attorney general said Paterno isn’t a target of the criminal case but she didn’t rule out Spanier, whose own scheduled public appearance Tuesday was canceled.
They can’t hide forever. The questions are going to multiply, not disappear. Whether they’ve broken laws is irrelevant; they violated the trust placed in them and their positions.
It’s sad that Paterno, who turns 85 in December, has to depart this way (it’s sad that he hung around this long, but that’s another story). He certainly can’t return next season, not with the stench from this atrocity hanging over the program.
He should do everyone a favor and leave immediately, taking the president with him. And if they won’t go voluntarily, the Board of Trustees should push them out.
Like right now … if it didn’t do so already.