Rochelle Riley: No mercy for Jerry Sandusky's enablers at Penn State
Fifteen years. That's how long it was proved that former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky abused children.
Fourteen years. That's how long late head coach Joe Paterno knew about it. And thanks to former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was hired by the university to investigate the horrific child abuse scandal, we now know who else knew about the 1998 investigation into Sandusky abusing a child -- damn near everybody in charge at Penn State.
"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh wrote in a letter released with the report Thursday. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized." The officials "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest," Freeh wrote. Why wait now? So we finally know what many suspected: Penn State put football before children, football before honor, football before common decency -- and helped perpetuate the worst criminal enterprise in college athletic history.
So what happens now?
The NCAA is waiting for Penn State to make the next move now that the report has been released. State College has been waiting for law enforcement authorities to decide what to do next. America has been waiting for justice since Sandusky practically admitted to NBC sportscaster Bob Costas that he was a pedophile -- and was convicted last month of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
What is everybody waiting for?
Law enforcement authorities need to arrest all the coconspirators in the child abuse scandal. The NCAA, which has taken away past victories from teams simply because their players accepted illegal gifts, knows what it needs to do to a program that aided and abetted child abuse: Since Penn State officials made child abuse about football, so should the athletic association. The NCAA should take away every Penn State football victory that happened while university officials allowed children to be abused. Yes, for 14 years. Twisted priorities Penn State showed "no concern" about the victim in the 1998 case, Freeh wrote in the report.
The university "failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his (Paterno's) coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno's. "At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child to the campus." Even the report suggests that Penn State could have kept the early abuse private while stopping continuing abuse. But Penn State did nothing, allowing at least nine other children to be abused. The Sandusky case is about crime and punishment.
The Sandusky case is about football and what officials were willing to do to save it. The punishments -- all of them -- should fit the crimes. Everyone involved -- not just Jerry Sandusky -- should go to jail. And Joe Paterno's legacy? It is no longer football.
It is this.
And the lesson for all coaches at any university, high school or community program who are so beloved that their names are enshrined in history, their faces on statues, their tenures the stuff of legends: Football is not more important than children, and you don't commit crimes in its name.
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If you have any questions or concerns about what can be done to help children who have suffered from child abuse, or families of children who have died, please call Christopher Keane and The Keane Law Firm toll-free for free consultation at (888) 592-5437 (KIDS), click on contact us here, or use the web form provided at http://www.keanelaw.com
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