PENN STATE SCANDAL
BY DIANE DIMOND
RELEASE: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2011
Imagine an 11-year-old boy from an underprivileged family who gets help from a local charity called The Second Mile so he can spend time with members of the exalted Penn State University football team. This little boy is ushered onto campus and is introduced around by one of the team's top coaches. He gets to work out with the players and see the action up close. This kid feels like a king! Boy, wait till he tells his buddies back in the housing project where he lives with his single mother.
But a part of the boy's dream includes something he wishes he could forget. The coach that brought him to this wondrous place suggests a shower at the end of their special day, and when they are both naked he engages in sexually charged behavior with the child.
After the coach drives him home, the boy says to his mother, "If you're wondering why my hair is wet, we took a shower together."
The outraged mother calls police, and the first official investigation of Penn State's assistant coach Jerry Sandusky begins. The year is 1998.
The mother has two conversations with Sandusky while police listened in. Police confirm Sandusky admitted showering with several young boys and ultimately told the woman: "I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. ... I wish I was dead." The local district attorney, Ray Gricar, decides there isn't enough evidence to press charges.
Somehow word gets back to the university, and a short time later Sandusky is told by head coach Joe Paterno that he will never be promoted. Sandusky soon retires but retains all university privileges, including keys to the football locker rooms.
Two years later, in the fall of 2000, in that very same Penn State shower room, a janitor named Jim Calhoun comes upon a horrifying scene.
Just so you know the nature of what we're talking about here, I'll quote a grand jury report: "Jim observed Sandusky in the showers ... with a young boy pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy." Calhoun was gravely upset and immediately told his supervisor, Jay Witherite. Another janitor, Ronald Petrosky, had also observed Sandusky walking out of the building that night hand in hand with a young boy.
Next, it's March 2002, and a graduate assistant named Mike McQueary entered the locker room one night and heard a "rhythmic slapping sound" coming from the showers.
Back to the grand jury report: "He saw a naked boy ... whose age he estimated to be 10 years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky."
McQueary doesn't call police. He calls someone he believes is of a higher authority -- the exalted Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Paterno reports the incident only to his supervisor, Athletic Director Tim Curley. Curley tells the university's VP of finance, Gary Schultz, and the university's president, Graham Spanier.
Not one of these men thought to call police or to try to identify the little boy. Why? Perhaps the $70 million the Penn State football program generates each year had something to do with their silence.
I include the names of all the men who knew about Jerry Sandusky's alleged activities with young boys because, to me, they are no better than the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who put blinders on and continually refused to call in law enforcement, lest their precious institution be embarrassed.
They all consciously allowed the corruption of young children to continue.
The grand jury report outlines sexual attacks by Sandusky on eight different boys. The most disturbing is Victim No. 4, who was described as being "a fixture in the Sandusky household ... (who was) repeatedly subjected to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault at the hands of Sandusky." Now 27 years old, the former Second Mile kid says he was victimized in 1996, often when he slept in a basement bedroom at the coach's home.
Everyone in State College, Pa., knew that Sandusky had established The Second Mile charity for kids back in 1977 and was actively involved in getting school counselors to refer troubled kids to his program. The grand jury reports he would often go to the schools and pull out boys for private, unsupervised meetings. Joe Miller, a wrestling coach, testified that in 2006, he found Sandusky in an isolated workout room of the school, on the floor with a young boy in a compromising position. "Miller unexpectedly entered the room, and Sandusky jumped up very quickly and explained that they had just been wrestling."
I'm going to predict we will all be astounded at the final number of young men who come forward to say they were victimized. At this writing, the number is said to be more than 20 -- and some may be the many foster children the Sanduskys housed over the years.
Sandusky is now out on bail, as are Penn State officials Curley and Schultz; the latter two were charged with lying to the grand jury about what they knew and when they knew it.
Some might say I've rushed to judge Sandusky, but, may I just say, there has been no rush. Instead, there has been a yearslong campaign of foot-dragging and cover-up.
Shame on all those grown-ups who knew or who suspected what was happening and thought their football program was more important.
If Jerry Sandusky has an ounce of compassion, he will repeat what he told that mother back in 1998. He'll say he's sorry and ask for forgiveness and spare everyone the torture of a trial.
Diane Dimond's book, "Cirque Du Salahi -- Be Careful Who You Trust," can be ordered at Amazon.com. Visit Diane Dimond's official website at www.dianedimond.com for investigative reporting, polls and more. To find out more about Diane Dimond and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.