Sailing the Seas of Cheese: The Conspiracy of Silence
“If this is true, we were all fooled along with scores of professionally trained in such things and we grieve with the victimes and their families.” –Joe Paterno, Penn State Coach
First of all. No, we who are professionally trained were not duped. We are appalled. So while you keep digging a hole bigger for yourself, JoePa, I’m going to kindly ask you not to speak for me and step aside so I can express my utter disappointment and anger at a football machine that put wins and profit over the safety of small children.
Shame on you Joe Paterno. Shame on you, Penn State. If there was ever a school that needed a prompt dismantling of their football program–an NCAA Death Sentence so to speak–it is Penn State. This is bad. The conspiracy of silence is on par with the well-publicized scandals the Roman Catholic Church has dealt with only on a smaller, don’t forget the Benjamins level.
There are some of you who are familiar with my day job. I allude to it from time to time. But allow me to step from behind that curtain for a moment and give you a little more insight into what I do. I’m not just a pediatrician. I am a child abuse specialist as well. My job is often to give these abused children a voice. So yeah, I’m going to wear two hats today and put my thoughts to print.
What I see coming out of the scandal at Penn State rocks me to the core. The fact the school apparently took a blind eye to this for fifteen years makes me angry and hopes the prosecution gets it right and the investigation and subsequent indictments are far reaching and the children–many who are now grown men–receive justice for their lost innocence.
By now, you’ve all heard the news. Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been arraigned on 40 charges related to the sexual abuse of eight boys over a fifteen year period. (Grand Jury findings are here. Warning: contains disturbing and graphic descriptions.) In addition the (newly resigned) Athletic Director Tim Curley and (deep-sixed by a forced retirement–read: still getting benefits) Senior VP of Finance and Business Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury (ie, lying about what they knew) as well as failing to report the abuse to the proper authorities. For those of you who don’t know, states have Mandated Reporter laws on the books. Long and short of such laws: if you work with or around minors you are obligated by law to report suspicions of sexual, physical or emotional abuse and/or neglect. Period. Doesn’t matter how many millions your college generates in football revenue each year. Failure to do so is at risk of prosecution.
I don’t want to hear how they thought Sandusky was a nice guy and how he helped out hundreds of disadvantaged youths through his Second Mile charity. That’s how sexual predators work. They’re charming. They groom children over the course of time to where they don’t even realize a fondle or even intercourse is abuse. They ply kids with special attention and priveleges. Former New York Giants Defensive Tackle Jimmy Kennedy told the New York Times that, “I never had any type of idea or suspicions about anything like that. All the kids loved him.” Thanks for proving my point, Jimmy.
And will someone please answer WHY a grown man in his late fifties is even in a Penn State shower with a child three years after he stepped down from coaching duties at that college? And where was Penn State when this same coach was bringing a young boy to the Alamo Bowl, sharing a hotel room with the child. Didn’t anyone at that university find that odd or disturbing?
Instead, the school seems to have turned a blind eye to multiple observed cases of abuse and misconduct. Then again, when the football team is netting $50 million per year, there are likely many willing to sell their souls to guarantee they have a slice of that lucrative pie.
Shame on you, Penn State. You deserve every sanction that the NCAA sees fit. It takes an extra-special conspiracy of silence that’s willing to sell children out for that kind of cash.
But as these horrific allegations come to light, I can’t but ask a bigger question: how many other collegiate teams have a monster hiding in plain sight? How many young men have suffered in silence in college (as well as survivors in the NFL) because of an unsolicted advance, groping, fondling, or worse? No child should be forced to do the things Sandusky inflicted. No child should suffer the emotional blackmail that he wielded to get his way. If there is one monster using football to prey on young boys, you know there are more.
Enough is enough. There’s a special place in hell reserved for monsters like Jerry Sandusky. But there’s also one for people like the officials at Penn State that decided to sweep it under the rug. They are forever part of that culture of abuse. The two deserve to go down together.
*The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone and in no way reflect the opinions of my unnamed employer.