Penn State wants the Jerry Sandusky scandal to go away, but no one can make the cries of boys go away.
The latest attempt comes from school president Eric Barron, who is furious about recent reports that claim the late Joe Paterno knew Sandusky was abusing children as early as 1971. That’s decades earlier than the head coach was alleged to have been aware his defensive coordinator was a molester.
Trying to protect a large institution at all costs never works, as the Catholic Church – my Catholic Church – knows. But there was Barron, lashing out at the media and, pathetically, possible victims.
“Over the past few days, allegations have surfaced from individuals who claim to be Sandusky victims and from unidentified individuals about the alleged knowledge of former University employees,” he said in a letter to the Penn State community. “None of these allegations about the supposed knowledge of University employees has been substantiated in a court of law or in any other process to test their veracity.
“I want you to know I am appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment that have accompanied the media stories surrounding these allegations. All too often in our society, people are convicted in the court of public opinion, only to find a different outcome when all the facts are presented.”
The scary words in his letter are “individuals who claim to be Sandusky victims.’’ When the head of a monolith publicly casts doubt on whether someone was molested by a monster, it can have a chilling effect. It can make victims of pedophilia reluctant to come forward – not just in the Penn State case, but in any case involving abuse.
Much of this is about money, because it’s always about money. Penn State wants to be reimbursed by insurers for the $60 million it has paid out to Sandusky’s victims. Its lawsuit is ongoing.
But Barron’s comments are despicable. What is he protecting? Paterno’s legacy? The school’s coffers? The only people in need of protecting were all those boys, and no one did.