An Open Letter.

Dear Penn State Students:

It’s hard for me to admit that I’m removed from my college years. Because honestly, in my head, I was an undergrad maybe 5 years ago.

In real life, okay, yeah, it was 15.

But. In college, I was pretty involved with the athletic department at my college. You don’t play in one of the best marching bands in the country without being into the football team. We were no Penn State – just a little Division 1-AA team – but that didn’t bother us. We showed up at 7am on the practice fields on Saturday mornings, we sat in the stands and played our fight song, we partied after the games.

And we rallied. We rallied against the administration when they wanted to raise our annual student fees. We staged sit ins.

We raged against the machine; fought for our own empowerment, free speech, the power to CHOOSE the lives we wanted to live.

Thing is.

I’ve been following the story about Jerry Sandusky and what he did to countless young boys. And I’ve read about Joe Paterno’s limited involvement in the case. His non action.

And I GET that he’s had 46 years at Penn State and countless winning seasons. He’s coached generations of students. He’s a lynchpin at Penn State.

But  I have to admit, when I read a story like this, I can’t really understand.

Because. Back in 2002, Joe Paterno got a call from a graduate assistant, who actually witnessed Jerry Sandusky having anal intercourse with a 10 year old boy.

And Joe didn’t fire Jerry Sandusky. He didn’t even report it to the POLICE. He, instead, called his boss, and reported that someone had reported that Jerry was “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a boy.”

Because, you know, it makes it less of a crime.

His inaction? Made it so that more boys were abused.

At the very best, he turned a blind eye to a man who hurt a lot of people.

At the very worst, he aided and abetted a predator.

I know it’s hard to imagine that the administration at Penn State is doing the right thing here by firing him instead of letting him retire at the end of the season. They are the Bad Guys, the folks who want to charge you more money and enforce rules over how you live your life while at the university. I get it.

But too, I know this.

There will be a day, in the not-too-distant future. Where you’ll remember your college days as if it were only a couple of years ago. And you’ll read some news story about a guy who abused kids somewhere else, and where someone who had the power to stop him did nothing.

And you’ll go into your own kid’s room – the one who’s completely sports-obsessed. And you’ll kiss his cheek while he sleeps and feel a deep-seated rage against a person who takes advantage of a child. Because, as you watch your son sleep, you realize you have the capacity to kill someone who would hurt him.

And you’ll leave his room, and start a halting conversation with your spouse about age-appropriate ways to teach your kid how to ask for help when someone he trusts does something which makes him uncomfortable.

And your heart will break when you think of the other little boys who were not so lucky.

And then you’ll think back to the rioting you did in support of Joe Paterno back when you were in college.

And you’ll finally understand.

152 comments on “An Open Letter.

  1. Kate says:

    Man, I teared up just reading this because it is EXACTLY how I feel. How could someone turn a blind eye to this? How could someone ignore their inner morality for fear of losing a reputation when there are CHILDREN’S LIVES at stake? And, it makes me never want to trust my precious child with ANYONE.

  2. Catizhere says:

    Exactly. He practically fed those babies to that monster.

  3. Delenn says:

    I teared up at the end there. Great post. Sometimes people can be blinded and cannot see…until later. I hope someone reads this and understands now.

  4. Excellent post. Heartfelt and touching. I hope you don’t mind, but I shared the link on Twitter and FB.

  5. Beautifully written. I can’t even fathom how people were aware this was going on and turned a blind eye. I’ve always known that children were harmed by preditors, but really thought if adults in authority were aware of it they would do something. Makes me so scared for our children.

  6. Jeannette says:

    I have been ranting and raging since I first heard this story. So much that I have had a perpetual headache. I am a Guardian ad Litem (advocate for abused, abandoned and neglected children) and I could not have said it better myself. Thank you for writing this.

  7. Farah says:

    I have no ties to the school or state. We are huge college football fans! HUGE. My 2 sons enjoy playing, watching and discussing football. This is NOT about Football. and I could not agree more.

  8. Robert Buck says:

    A coach is supposed to help shape young people’s lives on and off the field / court. Obviously this “coach” only knew how to do the right thing when it came to sports and not life choices and decisions. Sure hope Joe’s players learned from someone else how to do the right thing and stand up for what is proper, because he obviously doesn’t know what is right or proper…If our government would execute child molesters, murderers, and rapist, the instances of it happening WOULD drop!

    • Brockie J says:

      You need to think things out clearer.
      Let’s say we execute someone who is a child molester, okay?
      So someone who is a child molester gets the death penalty, no questions asked.
      The only thing that would do is encourage the child molester to kill the child, and any possible witnesses. What does he have to lose if he gets the same punishment for child molestation and murder? The same goes for the rapist. The laws are the way they are to encourage the rapist/child molester to at least keep their victims alive.
      One thing that I think many are confused about – murder is a more serious offense than child molestation. That’s not to say child molestation is not a serious offense or anything along those lines, no. But I think we would do well to remember that murder is the biggest crime of all, it is second to none, and it is matched with none.
      As with executing murderers, there are still far too many possibilities of error in judgement for it to be as black and white as “kill all murderers who are found guilty”. I do think that there are times where execution is called for on murder cases, however, so I agree with you somewhat.

      About the article, it is very beautiful. I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would protest firing someone who even had these allegations against him – let alone the fact that it is there is little doubt in this case.

  9. alison says:

    I agree with you completely. I think in college we maybe all felt a little invincible, and were more prone to peer pressure than we’d like to admit, but this is just so beyond that.

  10. Chris says:

    Joe Paterno couldn’t fire Sandusky because he had retired from Penn State in 1999. Good letter though.

    • Thanks for the clarification, Chris. Good point. Police would have been a better option.

      • Joe Paterno notified the Penn State police immediately upon hearing the information from Mike McQueary. They are authorized to arrest, by the way. Just FYI.

      • PMM says:

        To Jen Church Biasi—read the grand jury report…it was never reported to any police…not even campus police…

      • cc says:

        Not true, the report show that it was first reported to the police in 1998 when he acted inappropriately at an area high school. Joe Pa, was used as a fall guy… the board of trustee’s used this as an excuse to get rid of him and as an attempt to provide civil legal cover, not because they truely care about the children that were hurt.

      • I’m sorry – I was given incorrect information on the (lack of a) police report.

      • (All of this said, from what I understand, Schultz was the head of the campus police and honestly did have the authority to make an arrest.)

      • Andy says:

        Does not matter if he notified them or not. Bottom line, he let there be no consequences. This was not the first incident and was not the last. Nothing worse than a child predator except maybe someone who enables the predator. Would rather be in the company of a cannibal.

    • JFrick says:

      No, he did NOT go to police. Read the report.

    • JoePa may not have been able to fire Sandusky, but he could have done something far worse and chose not to, he could have gone to the police and had him arrested. There is simply no excuse for Paterno’s inaction. Paterno could have saved countless lives and instead he chose to throw them under the bus, and for what; a game. Sickening!

    • Mark Ford says:

      He did fire him because he knew about the 1998 incidents and police investigation. There was a reason the police and DA agreed to close the case and it obviously Sandusky’s dismissal was part of the deal.

  11. Mike McQeaury says:

    How sad.

  12. mel says:

    I love this….thank you so much for writing this…

    Mel…mom of a 11 yr old boy.

  13. Terry says:

    Thank you for writing this. He not only turned a blind eye he let this monster lose on more innocent children. Everyone who knew and covered up Jerry Sandusky’s tracks are equally as guilty. Being fired should be the least of their worries. I think criminal action should be taken.

  14. Kristy Foster says:

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more!
    Kristy: teacher and mom of a 8 year old boy!

  15. Matt Gibbons says:

    You have said this so well! And as you pointed out, parents already know this!
    But this will open the eyes of so many of the blind, be they young or old.
    “God doesn’t change things, God changes people and people change things”.
    Thank you.

  16. Chip Smith says:

    Very well written. I can only hope that this doesn’t fall entirely on Joe Pa. There were others that new of these hideous acts as well, including the man who will be coaching the game on Saturday. Having a tough time understanding that one.

  17. garysworld says:

    My sentiments exactly…as a former teacher and coach the behavior exhibited by coach Paterno and the others involved is inexcusable…Gary in Kentucky

  18. Kathy says:

    so well said.

    Kathy, mother of 6 & 9 year old boys.

  19. Candace says:

    Beautifully written, captured everything I felt and thought while watching the riots and reading the Grand Jury report last night. And yes, I did go into my 11 year old son’s room last night and gave him a kiss on the cheek, held his hand while he sleeping and prayed to God to always protect him. Thank you for your words.

  20. Thank you. ❤
    "you realize you have the capacity to kill someone who would hurt him."
    so true.

  21. leena says:

    Thank you for your words. I’m outraged at the Penn State students who rioted yesterday in protest of firing Joe Pa. This whole thing has really shaken me. Maybe it’s because I’m a new mom. Thanks for putting into words what I have been thinking all day.

    • DShea says:

      There are many here at Penn State who are similarly outraged by the riot. Keep in mind that the students you saw last night represent less than 10 percent of Penn State students. Twice as many have already RSVPd for a vigil for the victims tomorrow. We are horrified about this too and stunned that this could somehow have occurred in our beautiful town.

  22. THIS.

    From the feeling like undergrad was only five years ago to the kissing my two boys on the cheeks to (and most of all) the pure outrage over what has happened, and how Paterno’s inaction (whether directly or indirectly) contributed to the abuse of more boys…THIS.

    Thanks for writing.

  23. sithyogini says:

    thank you for this.

    ” Because, as you watch your son sleep, you realize you have the capacity to kill someone who would hurt him.”

    this is exactly how i feel. thank you. Joe allowed a sexual predator to continue with no repercussions. where is the vitriol of the Penn State students for his victims?

  24. Jeff says:

    I think this says it all…….thanks for sharing. Let’s pray for these poor children who went through the horrific events at this University.

  25. Tracy says:

    We had this same conversation at our house last night too. It’s really unthinkable and disturbing as a parent; just speechless.

  26. Matthew Zabroski says:

    Very good sentiment. The only problem is the statement: “And Joe didn’t fire Jerry Sandusky.”

    Joe COULDN’T fire Sandusky in 2002. He was already retired from the team and the university. Sandusky’s only affiliation with Penn State in 2002 was that he had an office on campus to conduct his charity organization (or for him a victim mill) and he had some contact with the football team (and apparently with young boys as well) in an informal manner.

    Considering the nastyness of this case..of this entire situation, I think accuracy is pretty important, especially with this letter being shared in such a public way.

    Other than that, great letter. Love the sentiment.

    • Matthew- yes, absolutely correct. My facts were wrong on that. I will fix.

    • Tony says:

      Still Joe Pa failed the young boy and other victims and failed in his moral duty. SHOULD HAVE CALLED THE POLICE! How about barring him from any association with the football program and any access to the facilities?

    • Trevor says:

      My understanding is that Paterno was on the Board of Directors for the non-profit that Sandusky was operating out of the Penn State facility. So, yes, Paterno could have initiated action, or raised it with the Board, who had the absolute power to take Sandusky out of a position that put him in constant contact with young boys.

      Or, you know, Paterno could have called the cops.

  27. Sara says:

    Beyond brilliant.

  28. Heather says:

    As a mom of 2 boys, I couldn’t agree more.

    HOWEVER, there’s just one thing I need to express…

    “Dear Penn State Students who were rioting in favor of JoePa” would have been a more appropriate salutation. It may seem insignificant to you or some other people reading this. But, as a PROUD Penn State Grad,it’s unfair to assume that all “Penn State Students” feel a certain way. Please don’t judge ALL “Penn State students” based on the actions of SOME. I’m sure that wasn’t your intention, but I think it’s very important to point out. Fair is fair.

  29. Nina says:

    Thank you for writing exactly what I was thinking. I did exactly what you described last night – hugged my baby boy a little tighter, swore I would ruin anyone who ever touched him, and started researching ways to teach him how to protect himself. I can’t believe there are people out there that don’t feel obligated to protect children. What is wrong with people…

    Now I need to try and pull myself back together again, because everytime I think about this I’m reduced to tears.

  30. While I find the writers letter inspiring and agree that when these individuals have children of their own they will hopefully feel differently, it does not excuse the fact that by the time they have entered their undergraduate careers their moral compasses should be sufficiently developed to understand that having any knowledge whatsoever that someone you know may have touched a 10 year old boy inappropriately is wrong. Yet they continue to support JoePa to the point where they riot. These are going to be the future leaders of the world, YIKES!

    Paterno was in a position to have questioned why the campus police did not arrest Sandusky if in fact he went to them at all. Granted Sandusky was an individual who retired as a result of previous concerns of misconduct involving young boys having been been found to be showering with young boys back in 1998, no deep dark secret to Penn state officials and JoePa. Paterno having been told by McCreary that he witnessed an attack by Sandusky on a young boy in 2002 should have gone to authorities outside the campus, and what of McCreary and his father. How do two men who have knowledge of such a horrendous act simply go to bed without doing a thing about this until the next morning and then all they do is go tell the coach about it. I am very sorry, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out where Paterno, McCreary, and the rest of the Penn state administration’s allegiance remained and it is simply sickening that they were willing to throw young lives under the bus to preserve that allegiance.

    Everyone and anyone who had any knowledge and chose to remain indifferent to the needs of those boys need to be held accountable with absolutely no hope of a second chance. Those boys who have been injured as a result of Jerry Sandusky’s despicable acts have forever been changed and anyone who knew about what he was doing had an opportunity to stop it and chose to do nothing. They need to spend the rest of their lives being reminded of that every single day, just as I am certain the victims in this case spend every single day in pain secondary to the memory of the torture they endured at the hands of this monster.

    As for McCreary, I was not involved in the conversation he had with his father that evening, but I can almost imagine based on their actions that it went something like this…..son if you report this to the authorities you can almost assuredly kiss any aspect of a coaching career at Penn state goodbye! Granted he did go to Paterno, but no different than Paterno, the apple does not fall from the tree in so many paternalistic ways. McCreary needs to be fired as well, but I suspect that the only reason he is still there is that Penn still has not learned their lesson and once again they are putting their football program before all else, Penn state could stand to take a few lessons from the NFL.

    • Andrea says:

      I totally agree. How could he witness a child being raped and simply turn away “distraught” and then go and call daddy? HE SAW A CHILD BEING RAPED AND LEFT HIM THERE! And didn’t do ANYTHING about it until the NEXT day. The first thing he should have done is grab the kid and take him to a safe place, such as the police station.

      And he still has a job.

      And he knew Sandusky still had a key until last week.

  31. My apologies for misspelling Mike McQeaury’s name.

  32. Heartwrenching, but heartfelt at the same time. I am a father of three boys, ages two, five and nine and I know the exact feelings and emotions you speak of. I was floored when I heard about the rioting and support that the students of Penn State were showing for Joe Paterno.

  33. Andi says:

    Very well said!

  34. debbie says:

    My husband just returned tonight from a business trip to State College. There was no rioting, as the media sensationalized it. He took his morning run through campus and town this morning…one phone pole was down and, yes, 4 guys toppled a news van. That is not rioting. Not a storefront was touched, not a house was vandalized, not an item was stolen. The people and business owners in life who have been victimized by true rioting are offended by the comparison. And, as the media, let’s invade a college campus at 10pm (when most college kids are drinking to be honest) for a very controversial announcement, put our cameras on, and NOT expect college-aged kids to act like, well, college-aged kids. What were the media folks thinking? Jopa told Schwartz, who was the chief of campus police, who did have authority to arrest, instead he told Joe he would investigate. Joe was mislead. Ask the Center County police department and D.A. why it took them 9 years to arrest anyone…nine years? What were they thinking to let nine years pass before arresting Sandusky? My 3 children are under the age of 12, and I can’t imagine what those poor children thought, especially the poor kid who saw McCreary so assumed help was coming but it never came. Please though, blame the right people for this.

    • debbie says:

      First of all…my apologies…I was replying while in between writing a masters paper so I wasn’t paying attention…it should be “McQueary” and I spelled it wrongly. Second, my ONLY guess as to how he ignored a child being abused was that, by some crazy chance, he himself had been abused and it was too much for him to handle. I am only guessing. No, I am not a PSU grad student, but, yes, I did get my undergrad degree from PSU, and I am proud to be part of how PSU is about to grow stronger and help victims world-wide now as part of our dedication to help everyone heal from this terrible situation. Visit RAINN’s website and donate in honor of Sandusky’s victims.

  35. amy says:

    Awesome. I wish there was a way to get a copy of this letter into the hands of every student at Penn St. The ending brought me to tears..oh, the difference having a child in YOUR life makes. Well done!

  36. Knowledge says:

    And maybe someday you’ll look back and realize that you jumped to conclusions based on a one-sided story being told by the media, before you knew exactly what Joe Paterno did. And you’ll remember how you thought he had not done anything when it was in fact reported to the equivalent of the university chief of police. And you’ll realize that Sandusky had not under Paterno’s employ for three years prior to the incident.
    I get the passion. But there is nothing in this man’s 84 years that would even suggest that he was anything less than decent. Wait for the facts before you crucify the man.

    • Holls says:

      So are you saying that if someone came to you report any degree of innapropriate sexual behavior with a child you would have to consider you options before acting (or not acting)? If nothing was done immediately would you not try your best to make sure action was taken and that this man would NOT be allowed to have any contact whatsoever with children?

      I, for one, would have the best interest of the child as my first priority. Your reaction to this is quite disturbing.

      • Knowledge says:

        That’s a ridculous response to my statement. I said to wait for the facts to some out. You, nor anybody else on here, knows what Joe’s response was. Nobody knows what he tried to do, or if he tried to do something and was rejected in his attempt. Joe Paterno has had the best interest of his players and the university at large as his first priority for 61 years. Why, with no credible evidence saying otherwise, would I believe he did not in this instance? It’s possible, but there are 61 years of actions, a Grand Jury report, and thousands of people with firsthand experience with the man to say it’s not likely.
        I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in the position to deal with a situation like this but I frequently am. There is a lot to it.

      • Carol says:

        I think Paterno’s casual, off-handed comment about praying for the victims that he made as an afterthought before finally going back into his house with his wife says it all. He never said anything about the victims before turning back around just before going in the door. His wife must have told him he neglected to say anything about the victims.

  37. Karen says:

    I can’t believe how many people knew and didn’t call the police, from the graduate assistant to the janitor, and yes, to Joe Paterno. Why not call 911 and child welfare services and CNN and whoever you have to call – or is winning football games and our own personal career aspirations all that matters? As long as it’s not me or mine being raped, well, I’m not getting involved – seriously??? How can you stand there and rummage in your locker and NOT CARE that a child’s life is being destroyed right there before you?? They’re all monsters, and I despair for humanity.
    -Karen, mother of 1- and 6- year old sons

  38. Jason says:

    It looks like an easy call. But, it’s never an easy call. I’m not taking sides or defending anyone’s action or inaction here. I’m just saying that when people tell other people stuff, what they do about it depends a lot on the people (whether it should or not). How trustworthy was the grad student witness? Was HIS performance sub-standard and therefore he lacked credibility at the time? What else was going on in the program that week? (huge distractions that made this report seem like a minor detail?) Again — not excusable, but understandable. It is a BIG deal to ruin a coach’s (friend/colleague) career over something a grad student said. In hind-sight, with plenty of supporting evidence, it looks like an easy call. It’s never an easy call at the time.

    • Holls says:

      An “easy” call? Children were being sexually abused. There is definitely an easy call. it’s called calling the police and getting that monster away from children.

      That fact you call his decision “understandable” really concerns me.

      It’s a BIG deal for a kid to be sexually abused. Much bigger than ruining a football program/career/anything else.

      He knew about it. Stop trying to minimize it, deny it, or call it anything other than it really is. He knew what was going on, HE had a chance to stop it and CHOSE not to.

    • Holly says:

      The Grad Student was apparently trusthworthy enough to be hired after graduation to be an assistant coach, with a well documented close relationship with Paterno. When children are involved, it is always an easy call. Always. You protect the child first.

      It’s time for everyone involved to stop making excuses and having excuses made for them by others – whether the involved party is Paterno, McQueary, or any other Penn State official.

      The fact that you believe there could be “huge distractions” that make a report of witnessing sex between Sandusky and a 10 year old “seem like a minor detail” says a lot about the lengths and mental gymnastics people will go through to excuse the bad choices made by someone they admired. It’s not understandable. No one understands it. The entire country is horrified by what happened and no one has any interest in making excuses for anyone involved. Almost as horrified as they are by witnessing the population of our state, mostly (but not entirely) those who are PSU alumnae, search for any reason to blame anyone else for Paterno’s moral failings.

  39. Zara Kingma says:

    I certainly don’t want to start A fight here… This is tendar waters. I just want to know why it this focus is only on Joe Pa instead of who this person was that reported such abuse to Joe Pa… Why didn’t he call the police. That is all a matter of herssay and I still believe that we live in a country where we have to be proven guilty before we face discipline, right? This is all based on if’s this is true and if that is true but yet this man whole past 60 years has been for nothing and he goes down like this? Just sad how someone is stripped of all dignity YET it still is not known or been proven anything took place. I’m so sorry if a young boy or boys were hurt, what a horrid thing! However, just don’t see how someone looses their job and their character broken over a possibility!???? Now with out a doubt I would kill anyone who could ever hurt my child in that way. I feel and cry for those boys and the many others that came before and after said boys! I just think anyone including the assistant that told Joe Pa what he saw… Why isn’t world saying anything about his blind eye when Joe Pa did nothing but think it was an outrageous line being told to him about his assistant coach… Idk treading on ruff water but really my intentions are good!

    • Andrea says:

      But he knew Sandusky had a problem going all the way back to 1998. So he could not have been totally blindsided to hear of more allegations. And maybe he had an idea of Sandusky’s problems going back even further.

      And entertaining the thought with you for a moment that he possibly could have found the grad student’s claims “outrageous”, you always err on the side of protecting a child. ALWAYS. That is why CPS investigates completely moral and upstanding families when their toddler’s leg is accidentally broken. You make darn sure that the allegation is false. Children don’t have a voice for themselves, which is why adults have to protect them.

      As you say, we don’t know all the details yet. And Joe Pa has been such a positive, amazing influence for so many which is why it is so difficult to get one’s head around this. It doesn’t all fit together. The bottom line is, many many are responsible. And Joe Paterno is not exempt, by a long shot. He is just the brightest of the stars to fall.

  40. LCROOKE says:

    Thank you for posting this. It touched my heart.

  41. It’s got damn atrocious folks closed their eyes to Jerry Sandusky raping children. How, pray tell, could they sleep at night? What is unbelieveable is students rioting to support someone who closed his eyes to the sexual molestation of children. Heads needs to roll from the top down! All involved in the cover up are cowards with no morals, no conscience, no soul!

  42. Thom Harvick says:

    excellent job, well articulated. you hit it home with this, I hope the verbiage reaches across the young minds who don’t understand the magnitude of what is going on.

  43. Guest 1 says:

    If you read the Grand Jury report the grad student did not witness his having intercourse with a boy he witness him fondling him. That is just a sick rumor created. What he did to those boys were still wrong. But people really need to read the facts and the grand jury report before you go around and say things. Joe Pa is not under investigation because he did what he was told from day one, if something happens tell your superiors, he did and that is who is under investigation not Joe Pa. My heart goes out to victims but it was not Joe Pa’s fault that Sandusky is sick. Remember this one thing IT WAS SANDUSKY WHO CHOSE TO DO WHAT HE DID. IT WAS ALL HIS CHOICE AND NO ONE ELSE’S, PUNISH HIM.

    • Guest – Page 6 of the grand jury report. I won’t quote. That said, yes, I absolutely agree with your last sentence.

    • You must didn’t read the Grand Jury report? The grad student WITNESSED a grown ass man having intercourse with a 10 year old child. No matter what you do, you cannot change the facts. The grad student witnessed a 10 year old child being raped and he didn’t immediately reach for the phone to call police. Every person involved in covering up this wickedness need to do some time! No doubt about it!

      • Holls says:

        It makes me furious he didn’t reach for the boy and stop the act immediately. How could he have not gotten that boy to safety first?!

    • Holls says:

      So are you saying there is a certain degree of innapropriate sexual behavior that is OK? That IF the boy was “just” fondled, it wouldn’t have been so bad? I’m confused here, because to me, ANY kind of innapproriate sexual behavior is wrong.

      It’s not Joe’s fault Sandusky was sick, but it is his fault her had the power to get that monster away from children, and didn’t.

    • Beth says:

      Just because someone does what the WORK rules say does not make that the right thing to do or the HUMAN BEING thing to do. As human beings and grown ups we have a responsibility to protect children and Joe Pa and the others DID NOTHING…So you are telling me that foundling a little boy is OK (even though reports say otherwise) and there is no need to report that to the POLICE.

      • Jerod says:

        I agree! Joe may have reported this through the ranks at the college, but every state in this country has a law requiring that sexual assault of any type to a child be reported to authorities. The links to these specific laws in PA can be found in the grand jury report. Long story short….not only did all of these people not live up to decent moral standards, but they broke the law!

    • Liz says:

      Even if JoePa isn’t culpable because he did notify his superiors (which, BTW, the legal obligation is to report it to the police, not to your boss), he is culpable for allowing Jerry Sandusky to remain on that campus for another 9 years. Make no mistake…JoePa ran that entire school. Not the President. Not the Board. What JoePa says, goes.

      BTW, if someone told me that someone that worked for me molested a child, even if I did only report it my superiors, I would sure as hell wonder why he wasn’t in jail, and follow up to make sure something had been done.

      So while, yes, Jerry Sandusky is the bad guy here, everyone from the grad student to the janitor to the administration to JoePa is equally morally culpable for what happened.

    • DVD says:

      Guest 1 .. It was everyone who knew about this’ DUTY to report it to the police and they failed. because of that failure, many children had their live permanently and negatively altered, and/or destroyed. 10 THAT WE KNOW OF. This guy not only molested little boys, but used his charity to troll for kids who were already weakened by circumstance. He’s the worst kind of predator, and anyone who knew about this and allowed it to continue, is complicit. You beloved Joe Pa SHOULD have done the honorable thing and retired years ago. No, it’s not Joe Pa’s foult Sandusky is a monster, but damn sure is his fault, in part, that this monster was allowed to fuel his sick hunger for so long.

      I would suggest that you take your own advice and re-read the Grand Jury report, before you yourself speak on a subject you obviously know very little about, nor have the moral clarity to understand. As a victim of child abuse myself, I actually find pretty much every comment you made pretty insulting.

      I pray to God you’re never around if my children are in danger.

    • Andrea says:

      Um, Victim 2 in the indictment??? Not just fondling. Sandusky made choices and he will be held accountable, but many are responsible.

  44. very well said…as parents already knows but i should open eyes of remaining..nice post

  45. teri says:

    There are so many errors here. One – Sandusky was let go in 1999 after there was an investigation into his behavior. He was not an employee in 2002. Second – did you read the AG report? That is not what McQueary told Paterno at all.

    I don’t like Penn State. I think Paterno needed to go. I just think that if you are going to talk about the issue you need to have the facts straight.

  46. Nicole Brady says:

    and why was the graduate assistant not fired? he actually witnessed this and called… his father?? are you kidding me? ‘well he was only 18’… what? at 18 you don’t know to call the police ASAP if you see a young boy being raped? seriously? what the hell is wrong with people today? ALL the people who DID NOTHING should be fired… ESPECIALLY the grad assistant.

    • Andrea says:

      I totally agree and to make it worse – he was 28 I think. Horrid.

    • Danielle says:

      Call the police?? How about beat the living $h!% out of the guy who is raping the child??? I can not understand how a man let another man rape a small boy. This is inconceivable to me!!!

  47. Nicole Brady says:

    JoePa may have done what was ‘required of him’ by the school, but he did NOT do what should be required of every person MORALLY.

    • Jerod says:

      As well as legally! Its very simple people & I dont see what the argument is….all of these people broke the law! It is a crime in every state to not report the sexual abuse of a child (in any form)! Beeing fired should be the last of any of their worries…every one of these people including Joe Paterno should be on their way to jail.

  48. Mike Willingham says:

    I like to think of myself as a “manly man”. But I have three young boys (and a young daughter), and when I got to the end of your column, I had tears in my eyes.

  49. This is so well written and describes exactly what I was wanting to put into words. My heart bleeds for the many lives that are ruined by this horrible situation. But in the end, there are absolutely NO excuses for letting anything, anything at all, of this nature happen to our children. I want to live in a world where it’s completely unacceptable for this to happen to our kids.

  50. Beth says:

    Thank you for writing this. Sometimes you look for the right thing to say at a time like this and there are no words, but this is put so well all I can say is thank you for putting thoughts of millions of people into this…I hope you don’t mind but I shared this on FB and T.

  51. changerwave says:

    Very nice post… hope to read more of such!!!

  52. Jackie says:

    It is a educator and coaches legal and moral obligation to notify the authorities…not just the higher up’s in a college institution if a if there is risk of injury to a minor or child. As an educator myself…I can’t believe how any one could let someone remain in that position. I also cannot believe that the reaction of the college students. What is going to happen to our society if we don’t put the needs and rights of children first…instead of beloved coaches, political figures, or pop icons?

  53. Jane Morrissey says:

    Wow! Your points made are indeed so profoundly & poignantly powerful….
    As a middle school teacher, former coach, and proud aunt….Thank You!

  54. Guest2 says:

    Get your facts straight before writing something like this. First of all Joe could not fire Sandusky since he didn’t even work for him at that time. How do you fire something who is retired? Second of all, you do not know what conversation took place at the time. It is very possible things were mis-communicated along the way as people are often very uncomfortable in making allegations about something like this. You have no idea what was said so you should not judge. Third Joe reported to Gary Schultz who is also the head of the university police (something you might not know as a non penn stater) so yes he could’ve, should’ve done more but he didn’t. He already said he regrets that and that he should’ve done more, but he does not deserve to be fired. Does anyone else get fired for their moral misjudgement. Should you get fired from your job for going over the speed limit since if you get into an accident with a child, that child’s life would be ruined too.

    • Robert Gray says:

      Keep comparisons parallel. If you were transporting the child as part of your job, then of course you would get fired.

      • Guest2 says:

        Ok if we are keeping things parallel, If Paterno was the one who committed the crime then of course he should get fired. He was NOT the one who committed the crime, he didn’t do anything illegal infact.

    • Troy says:

      Guest 2,

      Please copy your post and save it somewhere. Years from now when you have a child, re-read your post. Then apologize to your child for thinking that anyone on earth would just ignore someone raping him

      • Guest2 says:

        Actually I do have a child myself…a little boy infact and I do feel sorry for the victims. However that is Sandusky’s crime and he should be punished to the max. Why are we still speaking of Paterno. Paterno did not just ignore it…I’m so sick of people who don’t have the facts. He reported it to the men who were the head of the sports administration as well as Gary Schultz who is the head of the business and finance administration. He also oversees the university police. If you read the 23 page grand jury report it says Sandusky had consequences after what was reported. Those consequences of course were not enough I agree, but SOMETHING was being done about it. Yes I agree they should’ve done MORE but that Paterno does not deserve his termination.

    • SW says:

      are you implying that someone who injures a child in an auto accident is the same as someone who rapes a child? that’s insane.

    • Troy says:

      Flashback to 2003: Joe Pa is sitting in his office. All the sudden he thinks to himself “You know, last year I reported Sandusky to Shultz that he was anally raping kids in the shower. I wonder what ever happened with that? Oh well, not my business”

      • Jerod says:

        PERFECT!! How can a person just let it go? I’ll tell you how…all of these people were more concerned about saving face for the program and not the well being of the children! It makes me sick!

      • Barbara Neff says:

        Troy, perfect summation. Thank you.

        Troy writes:


        Barbara Neff
        Castle Rock, CO

    • Where is your concern for the 10 year old boy? For the love of Moses, the child was raped NOT Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno not only deserves to be fired but he deserves to do some serious jail time….such as rot in prison. …never see the light of day again!

  55. Sandy says:

    And too, what I don’t understand was the outrage and flipping news trucks because your beloved coach was fired. Where was the rage when a 10 year old boy was raped? Where are the priorities? I just don’t get it.

  56. Alissa says:

    Thank you. As a mother of a almost 5-month old boy you brought tears to my heart and words where I have not been able to find any. There were a lot of people in the wrong here, not just “the legend”. With great power comes great responsibility. Many did wrong, but it saddens me most that there are victims and there are people that could have done something, should have done something. If it was his own child, would he have taken it as lightly? If it was your child, every point at which the abuse could have stopped is an opportunity lost and someone partially responsible for the abuse continuing.

    I pray, that if there is someone out there trying to decide what to do about a reported rape, takes the lessons learned from this media-frenzy, and decides to step forward and call the authorities, and do something about it. That if there is a question in their heart about a situation, that they take Joe Paterno’s lesson and take responsiblity to step forward for a voice that cannot. I pray that if my child, or anyone’s child is ever a victim like this, that if a person is made aware, even just a litle bit, that they step forward and do their best for the victim, that they do the right thing- even if it is difficult. I pray that no child is in this situation.

  57. rebecca montini says:

    Couldn’t be any closer to how it really is.

  58. kellie says:

    Your post actually brought tears to my eyes. As the mother of a 3-year old son and a Penn State alumna, it’s as if you sucked the thoughts right out of my brain! Thank you for sharing your thoughts – now if only those college students would listen to you.

  59. Robert Gray says:

    What you fail to understand, Mr. Runs, is that he was doing exactly what was expected of persons responsible for the conduct and safe-guarding or others. The blame (at that time in our society) has to lie with his supervisor who was expected to take the required action. If Joe’s superior didn’t think anything need be done why would Joe? On the other hand, it’s strange that you don’t think the grad student, who was the only witness, had a moral duty to report the incident to Child Welfare. Times change expectations.

    • Troy says:

      “If Joe’s superior didn’t think anything need be done why would Joe?”

      Because any decent human being would do anything to stop this from happening again. If I reported it to my boss and he did nothing, especially knowing he didn’t tell the cops, I would then go to the cops myself. End of story.

  60. CallMeMsCrissi says:

    Great post. Definitely invoked an emotional response from me. When I think of what people are capable of…it breaks my heart. I have no sympathy for someone who stands by and allows such atrocious actions to take place. And, like you, I look at my son and think of what I would be capable of doing to another human being that ever abused him. I get it.

  61. Zach says:

    Please don’t try to own a perspective that you don’t have. I understand why you feel the way you do. But you really don’t understand the way we feel. Trust me

    • Exactly why I posted today. Because I did try on other perspectives. And clearly I can’t see through anything other than my own lens. Thanks for sharing, Zach. Great article. xoxo

  62. Steff says:

    I have been thinking the same thing since this came out. How anyone could turn their backs and let this go on is just as guilty. Who cares what good someone does for an organization if they allow such a horrific crime to continue with helpless, innocent children. I too have 3 young boys, 13,11, and 7. I dare someone to even think about doing something this hurtful to my children. I would be in jail

  63. Bob says:

    What if Joe went to the police? “Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Joe Paterno and Tim Curley, in which Paterno reported ‘disturbing’ and ‘inappropriate’ conduct in the shower by Sandusky upon a young boy, as reported to him by a student or graduate student.” Page 10, 2nd paragraph, Grand Jury Presentment “..Schultz oversaw the University Police as part of his position..”

  64. Erika says:

    A very powerful, well written letter.

    This situation reminds me of when Michael Jackson was being accused of molesting young boys while a lot of people turned a blind eye because, ‘he made such good music!’

    I guess if you win enough football games or sell enough albums, you’re untouchable to a lot of people.

  65. Linda says:

    What I can’t understand is why McQuery is still employed by the university. He saw this happening and did nothing to stop it. He as well could have called police. I believe he is just as guilty.

    • Yes, most definitely.

    • Guest2 says:

      That is why so many people stand in support of Paterno. Sandusky did the crime, McQueary witnessed it and Paterno is all over the headlines and everyone is talking about Paterno. I think people have this sick satisfaction of wanting to see Paterno go down. Why wasn’t McQueary who was the eye witness not fired before Paterno. Instead he got put on admin leave two days after they fired Paterno. You want to blame someone for not going to the police, you should be blaming McQueary.

      • Everyone who knew of the crime and covered it up need to go to jail and rot. If it is found to be true that young boys were pimped out to rich donors, then The Second Mile should be shut down and Penn State Football included. This is wickedness beyond belief.

  66. Oliluv says:

    For all those arguing that no one knows what “JoePa” did; where is the police report? There is none, because one was never filed. Since when do “campus police” equate actual police? They don’t. And if you ask me, I’m sure the “campus police” is a very biased institution. CHILDREN WERE SODOMIZED, THEIR LIVES WERE RUINED, JOE KNEW AND DID NOT CALL THE POLICE. The real police, that is. It’s sickening that they would ever defend such a man. Not to worry, though. One day these *children* will have children of their own.

  67. The Glipper says:

    Everything and everyone I ever thought I knew must now be questioned

  68. mary felto says:

    I suspect this will be one of your most commented-on entries. Every mother and every father will read this and instantly thank you for putting the words to their emotions. My “baby boy” is almost twenty-years old, but I distinctly remember the fear and horror I felt when I realized I had almost put him in harm’s way when my cub scouts were scheduled to join another cub scout troop to work on a badge with a man from another town who was later found to be a pedophile. We were days away from that workshop. Thankfully, another brave soul reported him and our children were spared. We had that talk with our son soon after that, because we knew we had to make him aware that bad people don’t wear a costume that identifies them as bad people. It was uncomfortable and disturbing and I was mad as hell that I had to take a piece of my son’s innocence away at such an early age because I feared someone else doing it in a much more horrific manner. Perhaps that’s why I had no problem with the Tooth Fairy and Santa being present in our home much longer than necessary. I wanted him to believe in magic and beautiful beings as long as he could because there’s plenty of ugliness to go around.

  69. ktfrek says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  70. Laura says:

    “And you’ll leave his room, and start a halting conversation with your spouse about age-appropriate ways to teach your kid how to ask for help when someone he trusts does something which makes him uncomfortable.”

    Check out This nonprofit organization specializes in teaching kids and parents this very thing.

  71. This is EXACTLY how I feel. I wish we could mail this letter to each one of the students who participated in the riot.

  72. Beautifully writtten! I wouldn’t be too upset about the fact that Joe Paterno could not “technically” fire Sandusky. The fact of the matter is, and we all know this, Joe Paterno, as witnessed by the many people that have commented here, and protested at Penn State, could have gotten ANYONE in that town fired, from practically any position. He had the power to do a lot; he did very little. Even if you believe that telling his boss was the right thing to do, after reporting it and seeing that nothing was being done, it was still in his power to try to help those kids. He was JOE PATERNO, he could have gotten the university’s president removed with a word in the right ear, BUT HE DID NOTHING. Even if he had reported it to the police and nothing had been done, wouldn’t you have followed up with them to find out WHY nothing was being done? Would you have done nothing? If not, why do you excuse him?

    Dear Serenity Run- After reading your letter I went on to check out the rest of your blog and it sounded like you were searching around for a job that you could feel passionate about. Might I suggest something in the child advocacy field, or in writing. This is excellent and, if you enjoy blogging, maybe your heart belongs to the writing world. Just an idea.

  73. This subject is really sad for all involved. I do feel for Joe P in a way. Not to excuse it in anyway, but many members of his generation never knew how to deal with these subjects. When I was growing up in mid-Missouri, there was a report of a child being sexually molested (this was in the 70’s). Nothing happened, except some parents removed their children from the babysitter.

    Then you have articles like this: where a mental health worker was fired for ‘doing the right thing’.

    Such hypocrisy in our nations laws and culture are why things like this still happen.

    My rule: If it is bad, you report it to the appropriate authorities. IF they don’t take action and report it to the police, then you do it. Just like the worker in the above mentioned article did. Even if it means you get fired. The protection for children should always come before organizational rules, reputation, or even the law in some cases.

  74. Mary says:

    Great letter and post. I’m glad I came upon your blog. As a huge sports fan, this situation disgusts and saddens me. We can only hope this brings more awareness and stops this from happening in the future.

  75. colleen says:

    Well said, blogger person. Very well said.

  76. rmv says:

    not exactly. if you walk into a police station and say, “jerry sandusky had sex with a boy.” they’ll say, “how do you know?’ and you’ll say, “well, somebody told me.” and they’ll say, “well, tell THAT person to come in here.”

    paterno is not guilty in a legal court, but he is guilty in a court of humanity. he did the right thing legally, but where he messed up was when he did nothing to pursue why sandusky was still around campus after he reported what he was told.

    the important question will be this: who were the rich and powerful people who were able to keep paterno quiet? my suggestion at this point to getting that answer is, “wait for the suicides.”

    • Common Sense Mom says:

      The mere fact that JoPa continued to work with, collaborate with, exchange Christmas cards with a CHILD RAPIST means JoPa is lacking in basic human decency. Yes, he did what was technically and minimally required of him, but he did not do what was morally correct.

      What if all adults only did what was technically and minimally required of them? What if no one made an effort above what the lowest common denominator would do?

      Sorry, I have NO sympathy for JoPa. No sympathy and no respect.

      Hooray Hooray JoPa is a football god. (eyeroll)

      When it comes to what REALLY matters in life JoPa is dead last.

    • I agree with “wait for the suicides”. I don’t believe Sandusky will ever face the music.

  77. whiteroses says:

    I’m going to be a mother in eight months. I have no idea what my child is going to be, who my child is going to be, or what they’re going to run in to in their lives.

    But it makes me sick to my stomach that so many people seemed to know about this and did precisely nothing- let this man continue to rape, hurt and harm and just sat by. You can’t just twiddle your thumbs and say “Oh well, I told this and this person and so I guess it’s okay now.” If you know about something like this you have a moral and legal obligation to beat on the bars until SOMEONE listens to you and takes the danger away. Joe Paterno could have done that. He didn’t. I think that’s where the outrage comes from- that he knew about this and didn’t do much, if anything, to stop it.

    In my mind, saying that he didn’t work for the university at the time is a pretty poor excuse. My grandfather played college football, and people still knew him around the campus where he coached for YEARS after he retired. Joe Paterno is much more well-known than my grandfather was. He is, as countless news media outlets keep reminding us, “a legend”. He was powerful enough to stop this and he didn’t, and any excuse that he could come up with now won’t begin to fix that.

    Frankly, firing him was the least Penn State could do, and it’s a step I am immensely glad they took. Paterno’s lucky if he doesn’t face jail time. So is McQueary. I hold him to the same standard. As adults, we protect children because they can’t protect themselves. All the adults in this situation not only failed these children, but failed them miserably. I have absolutely no sympathy for Paterno or McQueary. As far as I’m concerned, they’re both despicable human beings.

    Young lives have been destroyed. Children’s innocence has been lost. There are young boys out there who may never be able to trust ANY adult, even their own parents, ever again. And no amount of “sorry” from people who should have done something and should have known better could ever make up for that.

  78. Common Sense Mom says:

    As far as I am concerned, if a Penn State resume from any one graduating from 2012-2016 comes across my desk it is going STRAIGHT INTO THE SHREDDER. There are plenty new graduates WITH MORALS to pick from these days.

    I have no interest in hiring JoPa fans. None what so ever.

    • That’s a little harsh, Commonsense, don’t you think? Penn State has more than 44,000 students, all of whom are trying to get a decent education. Lumping them into an “immoral” category seems a little ignorant, particularly since there were maybe 2,000 students who actually participated in the rally.

      And even then? The kids who participated in the rally for Joe Pa were protesting how he was made into a scapegoat. Or supporting a man who spent 46 years giving his talents to the college. Or maybe they just don’t GET it, yet – don’t understand what the fuss is about.

      One of my commenters gave me a link to an article which I thought was really good – a media person scheduled to talk with a journalism class a day after the rally/riot came away with a very different perspective. You should check it out:

    • D says:

      Interesting. I would think someone with morals would know better than to make such a sweeping generalization. Newsflash: Not everyone loves college sports, even many attending said college.

      Then again, anyone who thinks in such a way as this isn’t anyone I’d want to have as my boss anyway, so maybe it’s just as well for those grads.

    • Andrea says:

      CommonSense, thinking and living that way is lazy. If you are in a position to employ someone, you should do the work to evaluate each based on his or her own merits and qualifications. Doing anything less will likely cheat your organization, in the end.

      Penn State is a very good school.

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