November 11, 2011

How far did the Penn State rot spread?

John Cole makes a good point. Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who is the target of the sexual assault allegations against young boys for the period 1994 to 2009 was considered a top defensive coach and heir to Joe Paterno when he suddenly 'retired' in 1999 in his prime. Why was he not recruited by other colleges or pro football teams? Was it because his behavior was an open secret within the football fraternity? If so, this could be the beginning of a much wider scandal. Former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer says that from his knowledge of the coaching world, every senior person on the coaching staff at Penn State had to have known what was going on. "Having been in this profession a long time and knowing how close coaching staffs are, I knew that this was a secret that was kept secret," Switzer said. "Everyone on that staff had to have known, the ones that had been around a long time."

There are now articles suggesting that many people don't know what they should do when they suspect child sexual abuse and so perhaps the actions (or more precisely the non-actions) of the people at Penn State should not be judged too harshly. I think this is a wrong argument. It is one thing to not know what to do when you just suspect that something is wrong. But in this case, someone actually saw a grown man having sex with a child. The person who saw it was a football player in his twenties and the perpetrator of the abuse was an older man of about 60 so it should have been possible to physically intervene and stop the abuse. But he did not try to stop it nor did he report it to the police, nor did the people he told it to report it to the police. This is not really a grey area.

Jon Stewart sums it up well.


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I suspect that you are unfamiliar with the authoritarian, top-down culture that the grad assistant was a part of.

That the young man was probably in total shock; he probably froze emotionally.

Of course, he should have called the police...THAT DAY and he didn't. But I can completely understand freezing in such a situation. It wasn't as if he saw a stranger raping that kid; he saw a superior..probably someone that had commanded his respect and admiration.

By the way, I completely approve of firing the head coach.

Posted by ollie on November 11, 2011 10:25 PM

When I was growing up, in Sri Lanka it was fairly common. No one took it too seriously, I don't know about the victim. The abuse was committed by Teachers in Charge of Sports and Members of the Clergy. I guess they had the opportunity and more importantly could pick a more or less inconspicuous place, to carry out the abuse. The students certainly knew who the culprits were, but didn't take any action. Not even the victim. Some students acquiesced to get picked into the team. It was also a common practice among older boys who preyed on the younger ones, especially in the Boarding (Hostel). While the crime is horrific, is the explosion of incidents reported a recent phenomenon in the US? If so why? What has changed?

Posted by Manik on November 12, 2011 05:23 AM

Did everyone know? Think about this:

Two years ago, Tiger Woods' filthy secrets became public after his wife caught him and beat him with a nine iron. Within three days, every major news outlet talked about his affairs with porn stars and his trysts with hookers.

How did so many writers produce so much dirt within that short a time? There's only one way they could: they knew about it and kept their mouths shut. But that leads to a bigger question:

Why did they keep their mouths shut? Answer: Because if they had talked, had told what they knew, their careers would be over. Any reporter who scooped the story before Woods was outed would have been ostracized. He would have lost his job, refused interviews with golfers and never allowed into fancy country clubs again.

In other words, those sports writers were more interested in protecting their own names and reputations than in telling the truth. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the same applies to the case of Penn State, that everyone knew and chose to say nothing.

Where the analogy fails is the fallout. Unlike the administrators and coaches at Penn State, nobody is holding journalists accountable for their silence, and probably never will. Just look at the "journalists" in Washington who toe the line and produce fiction about the Occupy movement.


Posted by P Smith on November 12, 2011 06:02 AM

Really, I can not understand why people do such dirty actions. And the victims will face big problem as they grow up. The government should have a special task force for handling such problems. Because it will destroy young people future and our country

Posted by Hauzan Kamil on November 12, 2011 09:13 AM

Great clip, Mano. I've rarely seen Jon Stewart so (rightly) disgusted.

Can't imagine what the rioting students were thinking ...

Posted by Tim on November 12, 2011 11:00 AM

Almost football coach who has commented has said everyone must have known, and many were enabling or participating. That's why Sandusky wasn't worried about committing his criminal acts in semi-public settings. The broader football/media already knew about this and the system had no attention of taking down this guy and his fellow travelers. This Penn State thing clearly is MUCH bigger than the media is letting on.

Kinda odd the way Costas gave Sandusky free time on TV to do public relations.

Posted by john doak on November 15, 2011 10:11 PM