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Bickel’s Blog: Everybody Must Go

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Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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I believe in due process.  You are innocent until proven guilty in this country.  It’s a flawed system, but it’s the best one in the world according to most.  What’s allegedly happened at Penn State though, goes way beyond the legal responsibility of charging people and finding them guilty or innocent in a court of law.  This is about what’s morally right and wrong.  Standing idly by as an alleged pedophile repeatedly gets caught molesting, and at the same time hosting and mentoring young children is wrong.  And if you knew about it and didn’t do everything in your power to stop it – you have to go.

Everybody knows the reputation and the icon that is Joe Paterno.  His football credentials are beyond reproach. However, how are his morals?  Is he morally as outstanding as his coaching prowess? My initial reaction is to say unfortunately no.  Joe Paterno claims he only was aware of one instance of Sandusky acting inappropriately with a boy and he immediately turned the information over to his supervisor in 2002.  But is that enough?

Why didn’t Joe Pa follow up and see if the child was ok?  Why didn’t he see that the supervisor took his information to the police?  Why didn’t he contact the authorities himself?  Why did he allow Sandusky to keep coming on campus and having overnights with young boys? The mere allegations alone should have suggested this was a horrible idea.  Why did it take until this past weekend to ban him from the campus? There are too many why’s here.

Why didn’t the grad student that saw the boy being molested in the shower contact the police himself?  Why didn’t he follow up later to see that appropriate action was being taken?  Why did the AD do nothing with the information and later downplay or lie about what he knew to a grand jury?  Why was the President of the University not notified?  Or was he? Why did the University Vice President meet with the AD and the grad assistant and do nothing?  Why did the University police close their investigation?

These are just the first few questions that immediately come to mind.  Read the indictment for yourself.  I’m sure you can come up with a hundred more.  To be honest, I could only skim through most of the 23 pages. The details are staggering and too depressing. Why did this man have unfettered access to children and the University for over a decade after the first allegations in 1998?  Why was this man so protected?

Unfortunately, the answer is nobody wanted to take down “The Program.”  Joe Paterno and Penn State have become synonymous with each other.  Damage to “The Program” meant damage to Joe Pa, which meant ultimately damage to the University.  Nobody was willing to put the needs and rights of a child ahead of “The Program” and that’s shameful.  In my opinion, this is a fire-able offense.

Nobody is above the law, and that includes famous defensive coordinators.  In addition, nobody is above a police investigation into a program turning a blind eye to a pedophile. That includes legendary head coaches.

I’m sure Joe Paterno has done hundreds if not thousands of great deeds and helped thousands of young men grow up and become better people under his influence at Penn State.  However, has he also turned a blind eye to some of the most horrible things imaginable? It appears he has.  If nothing else he allowed the perception that he was willing to look the other way to exist.  And that is an unpardonable sin if you’re the head football coach at Penn State University.

As far as Jerry Sandusky goes he will have his day in court.  It seems to me the evidence is overwhelming with multiple witnesses and facing 40 counts raging from inappropriate touching to child endangerment.
Graduate students, janitors, high school coaches and multiple victims have either reported him or testified against him to a grand jury.  His life is officially over.  It will be up to God to have mercy on his soul.  The best we can do if he is found guilty is lock him up and throw away the key.

As for the people that were aware of this situation, and swept it under the rug and protected the University or the football program – they need to step aside or be relieved of their duties immediately. There is no need to wait for the guilt or innocence of Jerry Sandusky.  Whether or not he is found guilty is irrelevant.  The fact is, these allegations kept coming up and nothing was done to stop this animal. Those that have to go NOW include Joe Paterno, the Athletic Director, the University Vice President, the graduate assistant who is now on staff as the receivers coach and any member of the police department that didn’t follow up on these allegations.  I’m sure there are many others.

No man or program is above crimes of this nature. Nor can they be allowed to look the other way in the face of insurmountable evidence and common sense.  If the case can be made that the safety and well being of children were put below the well being of Joe Paterno’s reputation, then being relieved of their jobs may be the least of their concerns.

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