A jury convicted former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts related to child sex abuse, closing a dark chapter for Penn State that led to the ouster of a university president and icon Joe Paterno and cast a cloud over the rural center of this state.
He faces a maximum sentence of 442 years in prison and barring an appeal will spend the rest of his life in prison. Family members of victims in attendance wept and hugged one another after the verdict was read.
At trial, the prosecution's case centered on the often graphic and emotional testimony of eight young men, ages 18 to 28, who said Mr. Sandusky abused them as boys, and two witnesses who said they saw the former coach abuse two boys who were never identified.
The young men testified that Mr. Sandusky gave them clothes and other gifts and took them to football games after he met them through the Second Mile charity he founded in 1977.
Eventually, they testified, affectionate touching became sexual. Several young men said Mr. Sandusky engaged in oral sex with them in the basement of his home, in hotels and in athletic-facility showers on Penn State's campus.
A common theme in this and many other similar cases is how administrative officials, people with the power to do the right thing and put an end to the predation, instead chose to look the other way, pass the buck or keep the entire incident and the person behind it under wraps, usually to protect their own careers and the institution's reputation. There were many people who knew what Sandusky was doing and how it was hurting the young boys in his charge. Yet and still, administrators like Tim Curley chose to look the other way in the interests of preserving PSU's
Sometime before the Jerry Sandusky case broke wide open, there were similar goings-on at Grace Fellowship Christian School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. In Grace Fellowship's case, administrators chose to look the other way for a time and later on, dropped the ball when Aaron Thompson's actions and behavior became even more apparent. In the end, scores of victims were preyed upon and the school was practically buried underneath the publicity, outrage and legal action.
The Catholic Church could have cast out predators in their midst and left them to law enforcement to deal with. Instead, the church used its considerable wealth and size to shuffle clergy suspected of child sexual abuse from parish to parish as well as stymie investigations into their behavior. Doing so cost the Catholic Church its image, the well-being of scores of young children victimized by priests, bishops and other clergy and a generation of people who, as a result, are not inclined to set foot in another church, let alone a Catholic church, for the rest of their lives.
In short, it's always the cover-up that gets you. Not acting upon or dismissing allegations does more damage to an institution than stepping up and doing what needs to be done.