The horrifying allegations of sexual abuse of minor boys by a former Penn State coach strike straight at the heart of the program legendary Coach Joe Paterno has led for 46 years.
Although Jerry Sandusky stands accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse of minor boys and two Penn State administrators have been indicted for perjury, Paterno is not expected to be indicted. He is, however, expected to be a witness for the prosecution.
Sandusky, 67, retired in 1999 as the team’s defensive coordinator, but continued to have access to facilities through his work with his Second Mile Foundation for at-risk boys. He was arraigned Saturday and released on $100,000 bond, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, Penn State vice president for finance and business, were charged with failure to report what they knew, as required by law, and perjury. They are expected to turn themselves in Monday. (Read the grand jury document here but be warned that the details in it are graphic.)
“This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, said in a statement.
Sandusky, through his attorney, has denied the allegations of the three-year investigation and this is still a long way from trial, but the football program, led by the aging coach, is reeling and people are asking whether Paterno can and should survive this scandal.
In the heart of Pennsylvania, Bob Flounders of the Patriot-News asks:
So what about JoePa — symbol of a football program known for its spotless image?
He’s going to turn 85 next month, and his contract is up at the end of the year. There were no guarantees he was coming back before this. Is he up to the challenge of dealing with the fallout from a child sex abuse scandal at this stage of his life?
All indications are that Paterno did the right thing, according to the attorney general. When [told] about the alleged encounter involving Sandusky and a young boy in the shower, Paterno quickly informed Curley, face to face.
The founder of a victims group is calling for the resignation or firing of Paterno and the York (Pa.) Daily Record asks whether Paterno should have done more when a graduate assistant first told him of an incident in 2002.
Nearly everyone agrees that Paterno did the right thing in telling Curley. But some say Paterno should have called a child-abuse line right away. Others say he should have instructed the graduate assistant who'd come to him to call the police. He also could have followed up his complaint to the university brass with a phone call to a child-abuse hotline.
But the grand jury presentment doesn’t indicate Paterno did any of those things. Curley and Schultz, the grand jury said, didn’t report what they knew to law enforcement. And for nearly a decade afterward, Sandusky, the man some once thought would be JoePa’s successor, faced no legal action for the alleged crime.
With the controversy building, Paterno issued a statement Sunday evening in which he said of the charges,: “If this is true, we were all fooled.”
LaVar Arrington, the former NFL player who played for Sandusky, told The Post’s Mike Wise that he “admired, respected and looked up to” Sandusky and that the Second Mile “has helped tons of kids.” But Arrington, who does work for washingtonpost.com, noted that he’s also a father. Wise’s take after talking to Arrington:
Paterno and university officials knew they hadn’t employed a defensive coordinator; they had in effect empowered a sexual predator, who the report says spent the next seven years molesting more boys.
And because they possibly chose to protect Penn State’s brand instead of a child — a 10-year-old kid whom they never even bothered to find out the name of, according to the grand jury report — more children might have suffered because of their silence.
If the grand jury report is true, they all need to step down — even the great Joe Pa. It’s the least he could do.
Whether Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I football, should return for his 47th season as head coach, was an issue before this and he has not indicated that he’s ready to step down with the team 8-1 and 5-0 in the Big Ten. Now, though, should he retire? Should he be fired? Should he stay on and set about the task of restoring the program’s image? How much responsibility does he bear?