Well, no, it was neither humane nor reasonable. It was unbelievably cruel, and incredibly stupid. Oh, it was kindness itself to Sandusky. But never in these e-mail exchanges do you get the feeling these men realize they are talking about children who have been sexually assaulted, and that their gyms, showers, football games, road trips and possibly even themselves have been used as lures by a child rapist.
The culture of reverence appears throughout the report. In 1998, when detectives interviewed Sandusky about some of his now infamous showers, they did so in the Lasch building, where the incidents occurred, so as not to the put the former defensive coordinator, ironically enough, on the defensive. In other words, they gave the pedophile the home-field advantage. Interrogating him in a police station might have at least scared the man into getting help or admitting he had a problem.
The Post’s Jenna Johnson details the findings of the Louis Freeh investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University.
Released on July 12, the Freeh report contains the reported findings on an independent investigation on the actions of Penn State surrounding the child abuse committed by the school’s former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky
It was clear from his comment to the mother of one of his victims — “I wish I were dead” — that Sandusky knew what he was doing was wrong and that he couldn’t or wouldn’t stop just because some university officials told him to. That remark was as much of a warning as any of the accusations his victims made. Penn State wasn’t listening to any of them.
So what now? Many of the recommendations in the report are bureaucratic: The athletic department should no longer have free rein at the university. University officials should provide answers when the Board of Trustees has questions. And everyone needs some human resources training, stat.
Is that enough? It’s hard to feel vindictive when the principal players have left the stage: Sandusky is in prison; Paterno has passed away. Other officials are gone, fired or resigned.
And yet, and yet . . . is the culture of reverence still there? On Saturday afternoons, is it going to be easy to forget those poor shivering boys as fans stroll campus in the beautiful autumn sunshine? If Penn State comes away unscathed — no scholarships lost, no outside controls put in place — does that send the message that even child rape is less important than a bowl appearance and a Big Ten title?
The NCAA death penalty feels good and right today, when we’re outraged anew at the gross injustices perpetrated at Penn State. It’s probably not going to happen, not the least because the NCAA no longer has the clout to pull it off. Conferences rule the world, and TV contracts rule the conferences. It’s probably too much to hope that the NCAA can quit wringing its hands long enough to do anything.
That leaves Penn State. The school has done its share of hand-wringing, insisting that this is an aberration. So appoint an independent body to administer some rough justice, and then take the punishment. As we’ve seen, a stern talking-to — even one that lasts 162 pages — just isn’t going to cut it.
For previous columns by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.