Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University – President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President‐Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno – failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well‐being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001. Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity, of what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001.
And Graham Spanier is a liar who should be in chains:
Spanier said, in his interview with the Special Investigative Counsel, that he never heard a report from anyone that Sandusky was engaged in any sexual abuse of children. He also said that if he had known or suspected that Sandusky was abusing children, he would have been the first to intervene.
Because until we start holding the people who knew and did nothing accountable, nothing’s going to change. Look. I’m not about obscuring who the actual criminal was here. Sandusky abused kids. People who are going to abuse kids are going to abuse kids and there is nothing we can do to prevent all sickness in the world. The only thing we can do, the only thing we have as human beings, is our ability to respond to that sickness, and how we do it determines who and what we are.
The report is long and horrifying on just how little of a shit the university gave about the victims, but what struck me as I read it was what used to strike me when I was reporting about the priest sexual abuse scandal: The lack of compassion in general. Sandusky was a sick man who needed to be stopped, and the people around him did nothing to stop him. They jawed about their concern for Sandusky, and that’s terrible enough in light of the children who were raped, but they weren’t even concerned about him. If they were, they would have given him the care we give to someone who’s cut his wrists or swallowed poison, who waves a gun around in a diner, who’s driving too fast late at night with the lights out.
If someone had been doing that on campus, they’d be locked up. Or in a hospital. Or both. Someone intent on harm would have been stopped, if he’d been doing anything but what interfered with Spanier and Paterno and the trustees’ views of themselves and their environment. If he’d been a rabid dog, menacing people on Main Street, he would have received more mercy than he did.
But since what he was doing was what we’ve convinced ourselves is a real thing on par with being raped, threatening the reputations of the powerful, Sandusky was allowed to go on his merry way, and rape more kids. And until some of the people who let him pass are frogmarched into maximum security, that will continue to be the default position of the powerful, because power protects itself, first and always.
If we haven’t learned it before, we’re learning it now from the Freeh report.