The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees fired legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, and university President, Graham Spanier Wednesday night amid a firestorm of criticism over how the university handled sexual abuse allegations against former assistant football coach, John Sandusky. Board Vice Chair John Surma said the trustees, having learned the details of allegations made their decision “in the best interest of the university.”
It only took them eleven years.
Penn State supervisory personnel were made aware of John Sandusky’s inappropriate acts with minors as far back as the fall of 2000. They did nothing.
On March 1, 2002 a 28 year old graduate assistant, Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy in the locker room showers. He did nothing. He did not stop the assault. He did not call the police. He told his dad.
On March 2nd McQueary reported the incident to Joe Paterno…who reported the incident to athletic director Tim Curley…who reported the incident to Vice President Gary Schultz…who reported the incident to President Spanier. They did nothing until March 27, 2002…when they took away Sandusky’s keys to the locker room. At no time did any of them contact the police.
Over the next eleven years Sandusky was often seen in the company of young boys around the campus and on the sidelines of Penn State football games. There are now at least 8 reported incidents of similar accusations against Sandusky; many occurring after the 2002 incident.
Sandusky has been arrested and faces criminal charges. McQueary still serves as an assistant coach on the Penn State staff. Curley has taken a leave of absence and Schultz has elected to resign.
How does this happen? How does a 28 year old grad student witness the rape of a minor and not step in to stop the attack? How does the most powerful man on campus, a legendary coach who has devoted his life to doing things the right way, not use that influence to make certain that justice is done. How do educated men who have taken as their profession the task of educating and mentoring our youth, turn their backs on a ten year old boy?
It happened because they were acting “in the best interest of the university.”
Unfortunately nobody at Penn State considered the interests of the ten year old boy.