A dark and gloomy cloud has emerged over the campus of Penn State University. Will this cloud continuously loom over this beautiful campus? In the aftermath of legendary Penn State head coach Joe Paterno’s passing coupled with the late-stages of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial; some say this tribulation has forever scarred its campus, fans, and the Nittany Lions alumni. Penn State associates and neutral by-standers have patiently waited for the trial to begin. Sandusky’s lawyers were able to postpone the sexual abuse trial multiple times. As evidence continues to pour in and be presented to a jury of Sandusky’s peers, the verdict can slightly be seen on the horizon. Yet, a question remains to be unanswered; will the verdict be a moral pronouncement? Or will the verdict be on the behalf of Penn State, athletic department and the university’s boosters?
Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator under Paterno, has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys and 51 counts of sexual molestation across a 15-year period. Paterno was deeply criticized for failing to contact police and the proper authorities when he learned of allegations of a sexual assault on a young boy in 2002 on campus. Criticism suggests Paterno’s inaction may have led to more children being sexually molested by Sandusky; and students and faculty at the university have expressed a mix of disgust and confusion, and a hope that much of what prosecutors have charged is not true. Was Joe Paterno’s decision to settle this ghastly issue behind closed doors an ethical way of handling the current situation?
A small percentage of society would argue yes, why the mass-majority would argue no. While child abuse should never be tolerated or conducted on any level, one could understand why Paterno may have chosen to handle this situation behind closed doors. Paterno may have chosen this route to save the face of his football program, which took him decades to build. A program considered by most to be the pride of college football in Pennsylvania and is recognized as one of America’s powerhouse college football teams. No one will ever know the reason why coach chose to handle this delicate situation the way he did. One can offer a scenario which fits Paterno’s personality.
Coach was from a hardened era, where men handled these situations behind closed-doors, issues like this one didn’t get leaked to outsiders. One could understand what coach was trying to do but it never should have been a reason for him to do the bare minimum! To use the cliché “you’re a product of your environment” fits appropriately. In his heart, Paterno felt as if what he was doing, was the right way. To his credit, men from his generation did things this way and he tried to remain loyal to his friend and fellow coach. Paterno was scrutinized for his loyalty and essentially fired for it. One has to admire coach for trying to remain loyal when most weren’t but there is no justification for the events that transpired.
Yet, students felt as if there were reasons for his inactions. It caused them to riot in the streets and cause millions in property damage. Loyalty is an amazing quality but there comes a time when you have to look at the current situation from a rational and ethical point-of-view. An atmosphere which is usually joyful, bright and filled with family and historical tradition was turned into an obscure theme. The atmosphere of college football offers another world; one away from the stress of real life. A world where you can root for your favorite team to beat your arch rivals. You’re able to carry on conversations with a person you don’t know because he or she is a fellow-fan.
The benefits of tailgating and cooking outside makes food seem to taste better than restaurant gourmets. Students line up at the stadium gates as early as 8 a.m. to secure the best seats at their desired stadium. Fans stretch for miles eating, drinking and singing their school fight song. While you wait in your stadium seat, the place begins to become absolutely nuts because your team is getting ready to come onto the field. The noise starts to become bone-rattling. Adding to the noise is you yelling at the top of your voice about a bad call on the field with no consequences for it. Say what you want about the NFL or any other sport, but nothing comes close to being at a college football stadium in the fall and the world it offers. Yet, normal fans are able to leave this atmosphere and return to the real-world after the game has been played.
Sandusky took this world we love one day a week and used it to his benefit. This was the domain Sandusky never left. This is the reality where crazed fans and child-molester Sandusky lived in constantly; here they feel important and untouchable. This reality caused those around Sandusky to idolize him. He was treated like a superstar by those around him including the Penn State athletic staff, player and worst of all children. This kind of treatment made Sandusky feel as if he was above the law and the rules didn’t apply to him. After all, he was a great coach at Penn State and demanded respect right?
Sandusky took advantage of both the young-men and system in which college football can create. Jerry used his name coupled with the Penn State name and dragged it through the mud. Not only did he abuse young children but he tarnished Joe Paterno’s name and career as well. Was this Joe’s fault? Did Paterno deserve to be treated like he was insignificant after giving so many years of his life to the great Penn State University? This is a debatable topic but most would argue no. Do we put the blame back on Penn State and the athletic staff which allowed and created the unrealistic-world Sandusky lives in? Sandusky has hired lawyers to defend this world and his way of life which he was accustom too. Has his whole world become so diluted with ill-hearted thoughts his own lawyers won’t allow him to take the witness stand? The chances of this are extremely high!
This occurred after Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, decided to take the stand in defense of her husband. As Mrs. Sandusky took the stand she winked at her husband. She tried to speak in a worry-free voice as she relayed to the jury that her and husband will have been married for 46 years in September. Dottie managed to discredit the testimony of two lead investigators in the case against her husband. ABC News relayed Dottie was asked about the character of a member (Victim 4), who testified about the sex abuse he suffered; Dottie stated without hesitation that he was “demanding, and he was very conniving, and he wanted his way and didn’t listen a whole lot.”
To keep the jury convinced there are those who conspire against him, Sandusky’s lawyers felt as if it were a wise idea to keep him from taking the witness stand. Perhaps to keep him quiet so he could keep his delusional thoughts to himself (Wise Choice). Or was this because of his failed interview attempts he conducted with the New York Times where he admits to lying in bed with young boys coupled with showering with them regularly.
According to ABC News, Defense attorneys Joseph Amendola and Karl Rominger, along with Sandusky, made their decision today just moments before they would have had to call Sandusky to the stand. Sandusky was then brought into Judge John Cleland’s chambers, where Cleland asked Sandusky if he knew that he had the right to testify in his defense and was giving up that right by choice. Sandusky told the judge he was aware.
When a mother, who testifies on behalf of her son who states “he use to through away his bloody underwear away”, so he could avoid the embarrassment and the questions that would follow; your stomach begins to turn. To add to the nauseating thoughts of what Sandusky is accused of, more terms were used in the victims testimonies such as: “tickle monster”, “soap battles”, “it’s your turn”, “he blew on my stomach”, “friendly basement visit’s” and “severe sexual positions”; one can only hope for justice and an ethical verdict.
The defense has rested today and closing arguments will continue tomorrow before the case is handed over to the jury. We as college football fans and decent human-beings can only hope Sandusky’s lawyers closing statements fall on the deafened-ears. Most important, give Sandusky’s victims a sense of peace. Send their rapist to prison for the remainder of his days. Make Sandusky a distant memory of Penn State University. Remove the blemish from Jo Pa’s legendary coaching career; he never asked to be put in this situation, although this isn’t a reasonable excuse for his inaction. Removing these black clouds which loom over campus will allow Penn State and Sandusky’s victims to see brighter days. If Sandusky is proven guilty, enjoy your “not so friendly” prison sentence, may you receive the same care you have extended to so many others.