Emails show lack of institutional control at Penn State

info@islandpacket.comJuly 2, 2012 

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

It's a quote often attributed to 18th-century Irish statesman Edmund Burke, though he never actually wrote it.

Unfortunately for Penn State University and, in particular, its football program, that statement has proven all too true.

As the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal has developed, it has grown increasingly clear that if any number of adults involved with the football program or the university had simply done the right thing and informed law enforcement or child welfare authorities of the longtime assistant coach's actions, at least some of the victims would have been spared the horrors of abuse.

Now, email correspondence uncovered by former FBI director Louis Freeh's independent investigation ordered by the university's board of trustees indicates longtime football coach Joe Paterno was involved -- along with former university president Graham Spanier, former athletics director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz -- in the decision whether to report Sandusky's 2001 sexual assault of a boy in the university football facility showers to the authorities.

Until the past couple of days, it was still plausible for the most optimistic to believe Paterno reported the incident to his superiors and left the decision to them. But the emails show Paterno was in the loop and may have influenced Curley, a former Paterno player, to go easy on Sandusky.

Not only was Paterno in the loop, but he was also, like the others, aware that the 2001 shower incident, witnessed by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, was at least the second involving Sandusky.

After these email exchanges debating the university's course of action, at least four more boys were molested by Sandusky.

Curley and Schultz have been indicted for not reporting the crime and then lying under oath to the grand jury investigating Sandusky. It's likely Spanier will eventually face legal repercussions, as well.

And that doesn't begin to address the financial repercussions. The university and everyone involved will likely face civil litigation from the victims and their families. And they should.

Sandusky was convicted last week on 45 of 48 charges related to the sexual abuse of boys over a 10-year span. He may face a sentence of more than 400 years in prison. It's likely he'll be sued, as well.

Paterno died in January. While he can't defend himself against any future allegations, it's clear he knew what was happening and didn't do what he should have to stop it. No one, all the way to the top, did what they should have done.

If that's not a textbook definition of "lack of institutional control," there isn't one. That's what the NCAA looks for when determining how severely a school should be punished when it breaks NCAA rules.

But despite all the despicable things that have happened at Penn State, the football program likely hasn't committed any violations of NCAA rules and therefore, is not likely to face any sort of punishment from that body.

Despite calls from educators, columnists and some politicians, there will be no "death penalty."

Football, rightly or wrongly, will survive all of this. And it will likely come out strong.

Evil reared its head at Penn State, and a handful of men had the opportunity to stop it.

But they did nothing.

And in turn, they scarred who knows how many young men for life.

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