Another Farewell to Innocence

By: Patti Bankson

If there’s one thing that stands out in the Penn State University scandal that broke last week, it’s that it could have been stopped, many times, as far back as 1995, but wasn’t. There were many opportunities missed, by many people, to do the right thing by these boys. Unfortunately, the only one who didn’t miss an opportunity appears to be PSU coaching legend, Jerry Sandusky… he not only took advantage of every opportunity that came his way, he even created some through his own charity… his own convenient stable of innocents.

Well, maybe Sandusky wasn’t the only one who didn’t miss an opportunity in this horrific situation… there’s Mike McQueary, a then-graduate student, who is now an assistant football coach, who was an eye-witness to one of the assaults. He once had had the quick-thinking, and guts, to break up a knife fight involving a couple of players in a campus dining hall, but both his quick-thinking and guts were nonexistent when he saw a young boy pinned with his hands against the wall, being assaulted by Sandusky in a campus locker room shower. Just as he’d stepped in during the knife fight, which police said could’ve been very ugly, (you mean the police were actually called?) he should have stepped into that locker room shower, where things were already much uglier than a knife fight, and protected that little boy. Instead, it looks like he, and all the others who knew something, but did nothing, opted to protect their own futures, instead of a young boy’s innocence, and what the loss of that innocence would do to his future. I don’t even know how you walk away from something like that.

What makes this sick situation even sicker is that McQueary was only one of many who kept silent. Oh, sure… he told Coach Joe Paterno, the next day… after he’d talked to his father. But, once again, the person who was told, Paterno, only passed “the story” up the chain of command, to his superior, Athletic Director, Tim Curley and (now-resigned) Vice President Gary Schultz. They met, 10 days later, and… did nothing.

In 2010, the Patriot-News broke the Sandusky story, but before doing so, they spoke to University President, Graham Spanier, asking him whether he was aware of a grand jury investigation of Sandusky. His answer? No. But by his own grand jury testimony, he knew Sandusky was seen “horsing around” with a young boy, in 2002. It’s not clear whether he knew about his university’s police force six-week long investigation into a similar incident in 1998 (no charges were filed), but how could he NOT know??

There’s much more to this story… more incidents, more turning a blind eye, more cover-ups and more little boys whose lives were forever changed because people wanted to keep their jobs, or just wanted their football program to continue. Can you imagine?? I don’t care what your job is, or what your sport is, you can always find another job… (and, I’m happy to report that all involved here will now be looking for new jobs!)… you can always assemble a new football team, but all those boys who were victimized by someone in authority, can never get another childhood.

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© 2011 Patti Bankson

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