By: Desmond Boyle, Staff Writer
Growing up as a Penn State football fan, I was mortified in 2011 when former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on charges of child molestation. I remember going to my journalism class the next day, where my teacher, and fellow Penn State fan, told me, “This is going to get much worse, very soon.”
This week, court documents from a case between Penn State and an insurance company have once again highlighted just how harmful the power structure around the school’s football team was.
The case is taking place to decide exactly how Penn State is going to pay the $90 million it owes to victims of Sandusky. The court documents say that a child told head football coach Joe Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him in 1976. Following this revelation, several new reports came to light in the past week.
NBC Sports detailed a pattern of acceptance of child molestation. In the 1980s, as many as six football coaches witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting children. While it is not known if any of the coaches reported the incidents to Paterno or other higher ups, it is known that nothing was done to punish Sandusky or make the incident public.
Another recent report from CNN says that Sandusky’s first victim to go public with allegations of sexual assault, at the time just 15 years old, was met with silence from Paterno and another unnamed coach. When his parents forced him to report what had happened, he ended up speaking to two coaches from the football team. One of those coaches was named Joe, and the victim recognized the voice as Paterno’s.
“I’ve heard that voice a million times.” The victim said, “That was Joe Paterno.”
The victim said that throughout the conversation the coaches confronted him as to why he was making this allegation. They also threatened to call the police if the victim went forward with what they claimed were false allegations.
All of these new reports undermine any shred of credibility to the defense Paterno used during the school’s investigation into the program in 2011. Paterno claimed that he had only been aware of one allegation that Sandusky had sexually assaulted a child, and that was in 2001.
This report references when assistant coach Mike McQueary told Paterno that he had seen Sandusky raping a 10-year-old in a shower. Paterno met with his immediate higher ups in this instance, and Sandusky was temporarily banned from the school’s athletic facilities.
The full extent of what Paterno knew about Sandusky’s assaults will probably never become clear. What is clear now, though, is that Paterno, at the bare minimum, must have had heard rumors or allegations of these incidents for around three decades before he came forward.
These are not the actions of a man who should be revered as one of the great college football coaches of all time, but rather one of the biggest enablers of child molestation of all time.