This post is going to be hard for me to write. I’ve pushed my other three posts to the back burner, because this really needs to be said. I grew up in Lancaster County, PA…what is known as the Susquehanna Valley. It was pretty much a given that if you liked collegiate football, you were a fan of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Joe Paterno was known as JoePa, and was revered in a fashion eerily similar to a god.
I was also a victim of child abuse.
It’s not something I shout from the roof, because I am ashamed of it, even though I should not be. It was not my fault. I was a child, and my abuser…no, my molester was someone close to me, someone I should have been able to trust. I too was not protected like I should have been.
Jerry Sandusky has faced his day in court. My abuser has not, and probably never will. The statute of limitations has, unfortunately, passed, and I can do nothing about it.
When the Sandusky scandal first broke and there were whispers of a cover-up by PSU higher-ups including Joe Paterno, I thought “Oh no…he wouldn’t do that…this is Paterno we’re talking about”. Then it came out that he knew and did something, but not enough. Like my Mister said, it would have been one thing if Sandusky was embezzling, or stealing equipment and Joe Paterno was like “Well, I told my superiors and was told something was going to be done about it”. These are children we’re talking about here.
Do you have any idea of the emotional impact of sexual molestation on its own, let alone the additional hurt caused by people who are supposed to be in a position to protect you, not just failing to protect, but enablingthat abuser to continue to molest not just yourself, but other children?
I do. It really hurts and scars. And like an infected wound, it festers. You can’t trust anyone to protect you except yourself. I have forgiven the people who failed to protect me. I am not going to say who molested me, or who the people who failed me were. Opening old wounds is not what I want to do.
The NCAA sanctions are fair, in that they are harsh enough to severely penalize PSU but not at the expense of the student players. They can go to another school without having to sit out a year, if they so choose. They can stay at PSU and retain their existing grants.
Joe Paterno had one of the most illustrious collegiate football careers in the nation. His record of wins could rival a professional team. His family vested their lives into PSU, and not just through the football program.
But he failed to protect those most in need of protecting. Jerry Sandusky had retired, but still had an office and retained keys to the locker room? That’s ridiculous. Mike McQueary is the most vile of them all…he reported that he saw Jerry Sandusky violating a little boy in the locker room…but he did nothing to stop it. I would have attacked Sandusky. I would have ripped his privates off of his body and beat him to a pulp with them. I am a mother, and if someone did that to my child, oh yes, I would call the police, and I would tell them that I certainly hoped they got to the perp before I did.
You do not hurt children. I don’t understand why this is so hard to get. Maybe because I was abused, my eyes opened to Joe Paterno’s guilt by negligence sooner than most. I have suffered as a result of not being protected. I suffered through being told I was crazy, that it possibly couldn’t have actually happened, despite there being documented evidence that it did indeed.
The PSU children need protecting. Not a dead football coach or Sandusky. These children need to be given therapy (and I believe that PSU should pay for that therapy), these children need to be validated. They are children.The grown ones need validation too. This happened to them. The higher-ups at PSU cared more about a football program that pumps $151 million a year into the state of Pennsylvania than protecting innocent children.
Jerry Sandusky DID embezzle…he embezzled the innocence of the children he raped and molested. He stole their sense of safety, their security, their ability to trust.
Joe Paterno was guilty from the moment he didn’t go to police when Mike McQueary informed him of what he saw. It’s not something simple like a behavioral infraction that Sandusky committed. Molesting a child, raping a child is a felonythat Paterno failed to report to police.
Mike McQueary was guilty from the moment he made the choice not to stop what he saw. Even if he didn’t actively decide to stop it, by failing to interfere he still made a choice.
And we are all guilty for putting PSU Football and Joe Paterno on such a high pedestal that we truly believe he could do no wrong. The harsh wake-up, the sadness, anger, and confusion we feel is all deserved. No one person should be placed so high above common human decency that he is defended even when there is documented evidence that he is guilty, even if it’s guilt by complacency and neglect. As adults, as parents, as teachers, coaches, as decent fricking human beings, we are all responsible to safeguard the children. Our neglect doesn’t just hurt them or us in the present…we destroy our future by allowing these horrible things to happen to our children and then defending the people who committed and enabled it to happen and continue.
All that said, this whole affair saddens me. It is sad to see the mighty fall. It’s sad to think that a whole lifetime of accomplishment is obliterated by unfortunate decisions of inaction. I think removing the Paterno statue was the right move…but I cried. I think the NCAA sanctions are fair…but I find no joy in them.
For all these sanctions, the removal of the statue, Jerry Sandusky going to jail…nothing will erase that children were violated. Nothing will give them their innocence back. And that is the most horrible part of all.