I don’t typically write about current politics or news, but I can’t seem to stay quiet on this issue. My heart is broken about the situation with Penn State. While I’m not an alumni of the school, I am an ardent fan and supporter. I’ve followed Penn State football for over 10 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. The news of JoePa’s more or less forced retirement brought tears to my eyes and a sadness that Penn State football will never be the same.
Joe Paterno is a legend in NCAA football and is, in my opinion, being treated unfairly and unjustly in the Jerry Sandusky case. I read an article on The Morning Call website by Paul Carpenter that I wanted to share with you today. It’s all about putting Joe Paterno’s role in the scandal in perspective. I agree with Carpenter’s viewpoint that if JoePa quits now, “he’ll go out under a cloud that will last for eternity, not just for him but for Penn State University as a whole. It may be out of his hands, the forces of mass hysteria being what they are, but the only way Paterno could preserve one of America’s proudest college legacies would be to stay and fight, or at least try.” I’m stunned that JoePa isn’t staying to fight! He’s always been behind his students and school 100%, even if he didn’t agree with them. He would always take the school and others that worked with him and for him to task if they stepped out of line in his eyes. He has given his life to this school and instead of them supporting him, they throw him out like yesterday’s trash.
For those of you who argue vehemently that JoePa should have done more about Sandusky, let me remind you of the laws regarding mandated reporting. I have a significant background in the mental health field so I speak from a credible viewpoint as well as the knowledge of the law of Pennsylvania. To quote directly from The Pennsylvania Code, Section 42.42, part b,
“Staff members of public or private agencies, institutions and facilities. Licensees who are staff members of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility, or agency, and who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse. Upon notification by the licensee, the person in charge or the designated agent shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made in accordance with subsections (a), (c), and (d).”
Saying all that, let’s look at a few facts Carpenter points out as alleged by authorities, and by a grand jury presentment in particular.
First, the misconduct, it was reported, occurred three years AFTER the assistant, Jerry Sandusky, quit working under Paterno, although he still had minor privileges at Penn State.
Second, after another aide, “graduate assistant” Mike McQueary, told Paterno he’d seen Sandusky with the boy in the shower, Paterno promptly told Tim Curley, Penn State’s athletic director, about it. (The proper authority Paterno was required to tell of the situation according to PA law.)
Third, the grand jury presentment says Gary Schultz, a senior vice president at Penn State, testified that at some point he “was called to a meeting with Joe Paterno and Tim Curley, in which Paterno reported ‘disturbing’ and ‘inappropriate’ conduct in the shower by Sandusky upon a young boy.”
Fourth, the presentment says Schultz “oversaw the university police as part of his position,” although “he never reported the 2002 incident to the University Police or other police agency.” Consider the enraged demands that Paterno should have contacted “the police” about the allegation. He DID contact police. Schultz headed the campus police force, which has as much authority as any other police force.
Carpenter than brings up a salient point. Ask yourself this: If you’re made aware of an offense that occurred in Allentown (or whatever city you live in), and you report it to the Allentown police even though it is based on hearsay, do you then run to various other police jurisdictions yelling about what you suspect? Come on people…think! Use your common sense. Of course not! You report it to the appropriate authorities and then let them do their jobs in following up, which is what JoePa did!
Curley and Schultz were charged in the scandal as they rightly should be, and some are willing to let the legal system function in that regard. Unfortunately, others have embraced Nancy Grace’s crusade to eradicate the “presumed innocent” concept from our culture. Paterno HAS NOT been charged with anything and Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said he is “not a target” of her investigation. “Under the statute he had an obligation to report it to [Penn State administrators] and he did that,” Kelly said at a press conference.
I do have to question why McQueary who is a very large, strapping football player, didn’t confront Sandusky when he saw the incident taking place in the showers. Or for that matter, report it immediately!
As for those righteously indignant hordes now calling for Paterno’s resignation because he supposedly did not do enough to protect eight or more children, Carpenter has one question aimed at putting this thing in perspective (and this applies to ANY child abuse scandal):
“Where were you when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was given evidence that two judges in Luzerne County were destroying the lives of thousands of children by putting them in commercial detention facilities in return for payoffs? Where were you when it became clear the Supremes deliberately covered up that stench? Show me where you demanded the ouster of Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castile because of his role in that atrocity.”
Don’t go blaming JoePa for what happened at PSU. He did what he was supposed to do by law by reporting to his supervisors. What happens from there is not his fault. Should he have done more? Who knows…it’s not for us to judge or question. It’s a disgrace that someone so honored and decorated is made one of the scapegoats for the athletic director and president who stood by with their heads in the sand. I’m sick and tired of those who rant and rave for his resignation. They are the same ones who yell the same when the team doesn’t do well, when a player gets in trouble, the wind blows west instead of east, or it rains instead of being sunny. It breaks my heart that a man who has given his life to Penn State is forced to retire/resign because of other’s stupidity and irresponsibility. Penn State doesn’t deserve the support Joe Paterno gives them.