SIDELINES: Penn State hid sex abuse to avoid bad publicity, report says

Joe Paterno, former football coach at Penn State, shown in this 2010 public domain photo. - Courtesy photo
Joe Paterno, former football coach at Penn State, shown in this 2010 public domain photo.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

They knew what was going on and did nothing about it. Period. You can’t defend it.

Joe Paterno, the Hall of Fame football coach at Penn State, and three other top university officials, kept quiet about child sex abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for more than a decade. They feared bad publicity for Penn State and the school’s football program. They enabled Sandusky to continue to prey on young boys.

The whole thing is just disgusting and, fortunately, Federal Way has never encountered such a depraved situation.

Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January, is the same guy who sat in thousands of living rooms around the country, preaching to parents about sending their 18-year-old kids to play football at Penn State. Paterno told moms and dads that he would make their sons into men. What a joke.

In my book, the definition of a “man” is being a protector who doesn’t back down when others are in danger.

Paterno did the exact opposite. He essentially tucked his head in the ground while unspeakable atrocities were being committed.

While Paterno was selling the “We are Penn State” attitude, he was also enabling a child rapist. Paterno, along with Penn State president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, were involved in a decade-plus cover-up of a monster, Jerry Sandusky.

The former defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions was recently convicted of 45 counts of child abuse.

According to a scathing 267-page report issued Thursday by former FBI Director Louis Freeh after an eight-month investigation and more than 400 interviews, the leadership at Penn State “repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse.”

During a news conference Thursday, Freeh basically said the actions by the most powerful men at the university were horrifying and sad. The disregard they showed for the children whom Sandusky victimized was “callous and shocking.”

Freeh said the motivation of Penn State’s powerful four-man oligarchy was to not suffer the consequences that would go along with the bad publicity. They wanted to cover up Sandusky’s atrocities to protect the football program and donations to the university, among other things.

The scandal led to the firing of Paterno and Spanier. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report abuse. Both have pleaded not guilty.

According to the report, the four Penn State leaders allowed the convicted child rapist to attack potential victims by giving him continued, unencumbered and unsupervised access because of his affiliation with the football program.

His continued access to the vaunted Nittany Lion football team provided Sandusky with a humongous carrot to attract troubled boys, whom he preyed upon.

Freeh said Paterno and his cronies had opportunities in 1998 and 2001 to step in and report Sandusky’s actions to the authorities — and the sexual abuse might have been prevented.

They could have easily banned Sandusky from bringing children onto campus after a 1998 complaint by a woman whose son came home with wet hair after showering with Sandusky. Schultz was worried about opening Pandora’s Box back then.

Then, in 2001, after assistant football coach Mike McQuery saw Sandusky in a locker room shower with a boy, officials barred him from bringing children to campus, but decided not to report Sandusky to child welfare authorities.

“There’s more red flags here than you could count over a long period of time,” Freeh said.

They knew what was going on and did nothing about it. All those wins on the football field for JoePa over the years are not going to be remembered. His legacy now is this cover-up.

Very sad.

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