Chik Chatting: The Penn State scandal
Updated 6:17 pm, Tuesday, November 22, 2011
As a Penn State alum, I can no longer ignore the enormous elephant in the room. And while I almost always reserve my column for the sports scenes in New Canaan and Darien, it's time for me to address the Penn State scandal. While it's true that the news came out three weeks ago, I wanted to do the one thing that very few did when the story broke -- wait for the facts to come out before voicing a strong opinion.
Three weeks later, I'm still not entirely sure how to feel because the biggest challenge in drawing conclusions from the Penn State scandal is the amount of unanswered questions which still linger: Did Mike McQueary stop Jerry Sandusky's alleged sexual assault on Victim 2? What exactly did he say to Joe Paterno? Did McQueary actually report the incident to police, as he claims? Are police trying to absolve themselves from blame by saying that McQueary never came to them? What exactly did Joe Paterno say to athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Shultz and did he follow up?
I've come up with only one indisputable fact: The allegations against Sandusky are of the most heinous, unspeakable acts imaginable, and he undoubtedly deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
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As a result of the allegations against Sandusky, many have suffered, but none more than the victims. It took me several sittings to get through the Grand Jury report, and though it was a very difficult read, I felt as though I had no choice but to finish it in order to get the whole truth and find out just how bad these allegations truly were. It was heartbreaking to learn that an alleged pedophile had such unlimited access to vulnerable targets for such an extended period of time. Sandusky's alleged crimes are a painful reminder that these types of people indeed exist in our world and that minors need to be protected at all costs.
The Penn State scandal is also one of those rare instances when one monumental story leads to another monumental story (the crimes alleged against Sandusky leading to the firing of Joe Paterno). For Penn Staters, Paterno being fired was incomprehensible. Paterno being fired because his former defensive coordinator has been charged with sexually assaulting minors was beyond anyone's worst nightmares.
And while I risk upsetting some who may read this, I do believe that Paterno should not have been fired as head coach. Everything I know about this man tells me that there's no way he could have possible understood what Sandusky is accused of doing. We're talking about a man who has contributed more than $4 million to the university, who helped raise more than $13.5 million in funds for the expansion of Penn State's library and who has consistently held his players to high academic and moral standards.
Paterno has put his heart and soul into Penn State, and I can't for a second believe that he would pull a 180 on all of us and knowingly cover up the alleged abuse of minors.
Since the allegations were made against Sandusky, I've heard people ask things like "what was he thinking?" and "how could anyone do something like that?" It's futile to try to answer questions like these because normal people cannot possibly fathom how someone like Sandusky allegedly operates.
The one very small silver lining in this tragic mess is that the Sandusky, if found guilty in a court of law, is all but guaranteed to spend the rest of his life behind bars.