Does Penn State Actively Condone The Rape Of Children?

Reading the grand jury report detailing the allegations against Jerry Sandusky and others at Penn State that involve Sandusky repeated practice of exploiting his status and access to the infrastructure of the Penn State football program to rape young boys, it is absolutely clear that the highest levels of the football program actively covered up–at worst–or recklessly turned a blind eye–at best–Sandusky’s rapes. He was allowed to continue to associate himself with the football program, and as recently as last week was on the Penn State campus.

For those who don’t understand how Penn State football operates, Joe Paterno–who has been the head coach for 46 years is the absolute monarch of that program, with absolute power. Regardless of whether he satisfied the bare minimum of legal requirements to report what he knew about the rape of children to his “superiors”–which as absolute monarch at Penn State, he really had none–he grossly failed to satisfy his ethical requirement to do everything in his power to ensure (1) that Sandusky was immediately and absolutely severed from any relationship with Penn State *and* (2) that legal and/or other action was taken to prevent Sandusky from continuing to rape young boys.

Everyone else at Penn State looked to Paterno as their monarch, and when he made it clear that he was going to do the bare minimum legally required about this, they all followed his lead. This included allowing Sandusky to continue to exploit his relationship with Penn State to prey upon and rape more young boys.

For Penn State to allow Paterno to take the field as coach this Saturday and to continue to coach until the end of the season constitutes condonement of child rape, and minimization of the grievous harm that Sandusky and Paterno by their actions have caused to who knows how many young boys. And note that deciding to allow Sandusky the continued use of the reputation and physical infrastructure of the Penn State football program to prey on young boys was an affirmative action by Paterno, not just inaction.

The only appropriate action Penn State can take right now is for the trustees to immediately remove the president of Penn State, to appoint an interim president, and to instruct that interim president to immediately remove Paterno as head coach and completely sever his connection and access to the football program and the Penn State campus. And by the way, the manner in which numerous Penn State students rallied in front of Paterno’s home in support of him was disgraceful. These kids need to recalibrate their moral compasses.


  1. omcdurham says

    From what I’ve heard, the university President has already been sacked, and Paterno will finish the season. What bothers me is that the (at the time) grad assistant, Mike McQueary, the eyewitness, did not call police. He went to his dad first for advice, then went to JoPa to report the crime. JoPa went to his higher-ups, and so on…sounds like a cover-up to me.

  2. julian says

    The only appropriate action Penn State can take is to nail this motherfucker to the wall by his eye sockets.

  3. Thomas Eldon Robbins says

    … I’m sorry, but did physioproffe just make a post that wasn’t a poorly spelt rant, food recipe, or combination of the two? not complaining, just threw me for a loop. good show sir.

  4. danielrudolph says

    No, they only passively condone it. It’s not like they told the guy to go rape little boys.

  5. davidct says

    You’re talking big time college football here. That is big money in anybodies book. One cannot just go around punishing people it it will risk the cash flow. The coach is a brand name and brings in the big bucks. If you have to chose between doing the right thing and cash flow, you go with the bucks. That is the conservative thing to do and we have to uphold tradition.

  6. d cwilson says

    As a PSU alum, I can’t express out betrayed and outraged I feel right. It has become clear that many high ranking officials, including Paterno, knew or at least were willfully blind to, Sandusky’s activities.

    As I said on another FT blog, unless you’ve attended Penn State, you can’t understand what an institution Paterno is there. He’s actually more like a god than a monarch as far as many are concerned. Word is that today, he’ll retire at the end of thise season and the board of trustees is going to ask for President Spanier’s resignation.

    It’s horrible. Every time I think about what’s happened, I’m torn between feeling rage and heartbroken over it. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. Like most alumni, I’ve always felt pride in my school, now I doubt I’ll ever feel “Penn State Proud” again.

    Oh, and there’s this:

    Not surprising that these freaks are trying to exploit this tragedy for more of their attention whoring.

  7. says

    Like d cwilson, I am an Penn State Grad. JoePa is a god on that campus. I am fucken sickened to my stomach both by the irredeemable evil that permeates to allow such a thing to happen, and for the fact that our once proud institution is clearly lower than the low. Watching your bubble burst utterly fucking sucks.

  8. becca says

    Spanier must go, Joepa must go.
    But it’s not like this is the very first sexual violence incident ever found in an ex-football player.
    We need to recognize that *accumulated money and power* and *glorifying brutality* are a perfect storm for sexual violence.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    … I’m sorry, but did physioproffe just make a post that wasn’t a poorly spelt rant, food recipe, or combination of the two?

    The current linguistic malfeasance goes beyond spelling. I question whether “actively condone” is proper usage. The first two definitions of condone @ are “to disregard or overlook” and “to give tacit approval to.” Thus, to condone is to passively approve, not to actively approve. IMNSHO.

  10. gingerest says

    Oh, becca, I’m with you, but what’s most shocking is that this guy established an entire charitable program the chief purpose of which now appears to be his access to vulnerable children. That’s a few orders of magnitude beyond that typical perfect storm.

  11. joseph miler says

    i hate to be critical of the grad student, mcqueery i think he has been named but he at first seemed the least culpable. what is relevant about him is that if he saw a boy being anally raped by this man then what the fuck was he doing just walking away from it and not saying stop! that part of the story is increasingly becoming suspect in my mind. i can imagine something like he saw a grown man in the shower with a boy and that would disturb the fuck out of me and i would have likely made my presence known and then made sure the kid was ok but if i saw someone anally raping a child, hearing the sound and not do much of anything except go home to dad… hmm. all of a sudden i am now doubting him and the grand jury found him credible.

    as i write i am sorry that i didnt think about this fully. that is not say that i dont believe most of what he reported.

    i just want these mfers to not get off because of technicalities and statute of limitations.

  12. Willy says

    You know Joe Pa was just protecting his job and could care less about all the abused children that had to suffer because he did not do the right thing. I think all Penn State students should be assumed to support a monster like him.

  13. Chris says

    Even better, abolish college sports altogether.

    Let our institutions of higher learning be for learning.

  14. jolo5309 says

    becca, Sandusky being a pedophile had nothing to do with football, that he got to do it so long had everything to do with football.

    You have to wonder if his first reported case in 98 had anything to do with him retiring the next year.

  15. becca says

    gingerest- that is true. I did not see it as a problem with charities broadly, although if there are other cases like this one (*vlurp*- dearFSM NO!) I would reconsider.

    jolo5309- playing football requires that one possess or cultivate a certain insensitivity to inflicting pain on others (as do several other sports). If the football culture encourages expressions of masculinity that (in our twisted culture) also correspond with sexual aggression… it’s not just purely coincidental that Sandusky was a football player and coach.

    “I think all Penn State students should be assumed to support a monster like him.”
    Do you mean we should hold every student accountable for Joepa, or that we should collectively be ashamed of him? The later I agree with. There are certainly plenty of students that do support Joepa, but definitely not all of us.

  16. mirax says

    Let our institutions of higher learning be for learning.

    Apart from the USA, that is how it is for the rest of the world. people go to university to learn, not to throw or catch a ball.

  17. jolo5309 says

    Is there a higher incident of sexual violence amongst football players compared to the general population?

    it’s not just purely coincidental that Sandusky was a football player and coach.

    Actually, it probably is, unless you are stereotyping football players as paedophiles or sexual offenders. I will say the culture of elite level football protected him since the first time he was caught, but I cannot think of too many paedophiles in professional sports (Sandusky and Graham James being two I thought of immediately). I would hazard a guess (lacking any facts) that the rate of paedophiles in professional sports is the same as the general population.

  18. bksea says

    What I find interesting about this is how no one has really made the comparison to the pedophile priests. I find the parallels interesting. In both cases, the scandal is about the lack of response from the institution rather than the pedophile incident itself.

    This should be a lesson for the Catholic church. The enablers at Penn State are getting their heads handed to them as rightly they should. You cannot put the good of your institution ahead of the good of children. That is what the church did and therefore is the same reason for the furor with the church as opposed to just the rogue priests. The enablers in the Church should get the same treatment as the Penn State enablers.

  19. DrugMonkey says

    What I find interesting about this is how no one has really made the comparison to the pedophile priests.

    HAHAHAHA, I take it you haven’t read jack squat for coverage and opinionating on this subject….

  20. Pat says

    No, people attacking the witness are without perspective. You see your boss doing wrong, your powerful and tenured boss – you run in to stop him, he tells stories and who is going to be believed?

    The same power that protected Sandusky leant an air of invulnerability and untouchability to anyone that had Paterno’s favor… people are misdirecting their anger because Paterno had in no way any such restrictions on himself. The most he would have risked is the reputation of Penn State – but how much worse is it now?

    This Paterno has shown a staggeringly enormous lack of compassion and sense and good judgement, I don’t care what else he’s done. This erases any good he might have accomplished in his life, and no pillorying of an underling is going to take away from sitting on allegations for nine years. Nine years. Nine years in which he slept just fine, not concerned about the trauma to this man’s victims that was ongoing. It was not a “past” incident!

    You think that lady that left the homeless man to die in her windshield was bad? Paterno is orders of magnitude beyond her.

  21. borealis says

    Pat – I would think if MacQueary had any kind of common compassion, he wouldn’t have been thinking about his damn job. Or who would believe him. You see something like that happening, you stop it immediately and take the child out of harm’s way, then you immediately call police and make sure they are bringing medical people to help the child if necessary. A ten year old boy!

    Any other reaction paints you as a sniveling cowardly pointless excuse of a human being. The man was 28 years old, not a kid.

  22. Pat says

    Paterno created the climate at that school – supposedly one of student athlete scholastics as well as top-notch sports. People followed his lead. If he had put an emphasis on personal responsibility and owning up to your actions, there would have been no question for McQueary on what to do: the culture would have said that McQueary should have stopped it there, that everyone else would back him up, that allegations would be followed up with investigation.

    That it turned out the way it did (reading the transcripts) speaks instead to an insular culture that covered things up by habit. That didn’t tell outsiders about criminal activity, like players getting DUI’s, assaults, and so-on. When you turn something inward like this and promote a standard of “reputation comes first” then it suddenly skews the judgement of the entire organization: you don’t have a proper sense of right and wrong because everyone around you instead is part of a grand conspiracy to project infallibility.

    I think turning over this massive monolithic wall of denial is going to uncover a lot more than this, horrifying as it is – it is possibly the worst, but I’d suspect a lot of rapes, assaults, and so-on got swept under that same rug.

  23. borealis says

    Pat –

    The ‘insular culture’ you describe works as a plausible excuse if you’re talking about crimes such as fraud or embezzlement or discrimination. It does not excuse in any way being able to witness the rape of a child and walk away. This is a school and a sports body in the USA, not a political torture compound in some dictator’s country.

    There is no excuse for MacQueary’s lack of action. He is a human being who witnessed a child being raped up against a shower wall by a middle aged pedophile and did nothing.

    Do you really think a ‘reputation comes first’ culture in any way mitigates his behaviour? Can you see yourself ignoring a child being raped in front of you because you were loyal to a damn football team? Even if they covered it up afterward, it’s the initial non-action which is the most inhuman and reprehensible.

  24. katytold says

    Remember, this, like all the others, is just one we find out about. The victims are long traumatized. No one seems to care about the culture of selfishness, greed, power that continually covers up these crimes. It is going on now somewhere else. Right Now little kids are getting traumatized.

  25. Anonymous says

    Posting as anon, for what will become obvious reasons. I was sexually abused as a child. I don’t say assaulted because there was never any physical force, just the force of the power imbalance and the manipulation of the inexperience of youth. “Just” is the modifier I used, but those forces have a lot of power to direct behavior. The gifts, the courtship behavior, the moving from could-be-seen-as-innocent touching to sexual contact–they all seem very familiar. Many of the charges also state that Sandusky performed a sex act on the child first (probaby oral sex), which of course feels good. So there’s pleasure, and gifts, and the ego boost of being chosen over the others… Again, very familiar to me. The accounts say “child rape”, and in the law it is, but the awful part is that it also seems much more like child seduction.

    Sickening, isn’t it? It’s almost worse than out-and-out rape, because it makes the child feel complicit in the entire situation. In fact, the abusers often tell the child that it’s no use reporting them, because the child did it willingly. This is why it goes unreported. If the child isn’t resisting, seems to be participating, on top of the King Joe environment of cover-ups, of maintaining image? It’s easy to sit back and say it should have been reported when you haven’t been in that kind of closed society, or you’ve never been the kid.

  26. says

    There’ll be some sport reviews on TV.What do you think? Here you are.Are your grandparents still living? So long.I didn’t know he was the richest person in the worldI didn’t know he was the richest person in the worldThe eggs are sold by the dozen.Which would you prefer? I can’t afford to go to a restaurant every day.


  1. […] When I first read this, my jaw dropped. It’s one thing for a bunch of small-minded yokels on comment threads to say something like “shit happens, get over it.” It’s another matter entirely for that to be the official response from a federal agency. Can you imagine for a moment a university, facing charges of widespread academic misconduct resulting in harm to study participants, releasing a statement saying “sometimes professors forget to be careful about their data – big whoop!” Well, maybe if it was the football coach… […]

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