Fair Warning: This fan post addresses the events transpiring in Pennsylvania. If you've reached a level of exhaustion regarding opinions on the matter, the author completely understands and empathizes. Still...
Like you, I have followed reports regarding the Sandusky allegations with morbid fascination and unmitigated disgust. Like you, I have formed opinions about not only the actions of the accused, but also the inactions of others. Given the focus of this excellent website and the dynamic nature of its readers' interaction, I assume that many of you have shared those opinions here. As much as I enjoy the high level of discourse we share on our common form of escapism, I must admit that I have consciously avoided the comment sections of late, and thus have not read what I'm certain, given what I've been exposed to as two years as a reader of EDSBS, are reasoned and sensitive thoughts on the matter. Nor have I offered my own comments, until now, but after reading this morning an excellent article on ESPN's site (more on that in a moment,) I felt compelled to supplement its content, and in doing so, somewhat explain my reluctance to engage on this topic. You see, I have a somewhat unique perspective on the nightmare that has invaded Happy Valley. The phone call someone…anyone…at Penn State should have made when they suspected or were made aware of Sandusky's alleged crimes? Someone like me would have received that call. As a detective, for years I investigated juvenile sex crimes, and for reasons that will soon be made apparent, I possess zero sympathy for the enablers of those offenses, and thus no appetite for debating those who would defend them. Make no mistake; Sandusky is a monster. Monsters, however, are never entirely self-made, and rarely do they have but one maker. Everyone, inside the Penn State culture and out, who had any inkling of what was transpiring in their midst and did nothing assisted in the creation, and you will excuse me if I feel no pity for their sudden loss of status and income.
I suppose its at this point I should regale you with the "war stories" of my trade to establish my bona fides, such as my very first case, which culminated with a six-hour prison cell interview of a serial child rapist, who boasted how over a period of twenty some-odd years he'd lured pre-pubescent girls with promises of Disney stardom. Or the school teacher with half a terabyte of child pornography on his computer and a secret office converted into a video-equipped "rape room." Or the grandfather who, suspecting that a warrant had been issued for his arrest for the unspeakable acts he committed almost daily with his grandchildren over a period of years, killed himself in front of me and my colleagues as we surrounded him in his back yard. If you're interested in such tales, buy me a drink someday and I'll fill your soul with horror. These stories, like the happenings in Pennsylvania, however, are sensational in nature, and thus obscure the quiet tragedies that transpire every day, in every town. You don't know the name of the victims, but you do know them. They're your neighbors, your co-workers, and statistically speaking, a number of readers of this site. I have lost count, perhaps intentionally, of the number of child victims who I had inform me of grotesque matters they should know nothing about, and those who do so represents an tiny percentage of those who have been similarly victimized but remain silent. Dwarfing even this number, however, is the legion of adults who knew, or suspected, that the abuse was taking place. "Similarly victimized" is perhaps a misnomer, as no two scenarios are exactly alike, with one exception. Never, not one single time in the years I investigated these horrid offenses, did I fail to meet an adult who was aware on some level that a child was being raped. In some of these cases, like at State College, their failure to act directly resulted in the victimization of additional children. In every case, however, their criminal indifference perpetuated the abuse of a child, and thus was complicit in not only those contemporary acts, but in the psychological issues that child would deal with for years to come.
If one ignores the troll-ish title ("One Remedy: Penn State without Football,") Lester Munson's piece on the ESPN site advocates practical and reasonable action to identify those who enabled Sandusky to commit the crimes of which he's accused of committing. What he proposes is beyond the abilities of smaller law enforcement agencies (in whose jurisdictions the vast majority of cases take place,) but not those of the Commonwealth. I decried the sensational earlier, but for the purpose of effecting real change, at times a spotlight is needed, and an incident of this magnitude occurring under the umbrella of an iconic football program provides exactly that. Munson's call is not so much for torches and pitchforks as it is for scalpels and magnifying glasses, and were it to be heeded, would identify the monster makers and hold them accountable under the law for the very real harm they have perpetuated. When the evidence supported doing so, I arrested such enablers, but had I the resources I have no doubt many, many more would have been identified and justifiably prosecuted. The state has the resources and the moral imperative to so act, and thus send the critical message that moral cowardice in failing to protect a child has consequences beyond a guilty conscious and loss of income. If the 84-year-old leader in college football wins failed in his legal duty and must face whatever penalty is determined, so be it.
The investigations Munson supports should and must take place, and until those findings are revealed and tried in court, everyone under the shadow of suspicion, from the university president to the football coach to the graduate assistant, should be considered innocent of any alleged crime….crime, but not catastrophic failure of moral responsibility. Again, Sandusky is a monster, but not an entirely self-made one. He met his co-makers regularly on the campus and facilities of Penn State, and did so openly and without fear of reprisal. Thus, spare me, defenders of Gary Shultz, Tim Curley, Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary, of your cries of "witch hunt" and "media crucifixion." They and their attorneys will have their opportunity to defend their actions and inactions. If you feel compelled to defend their acts as justified, feel free to accompany one of my colleagues to an interview of a shattered child, and explain to him or her why it's acceptable for responsible adults to know, (as all of the above, by their own admission, did at various points,) at the very least that another adult was acting inappropriately with them, and do less than all that is necessary to protect them.
P.S. I apologize if this post seems preachy, as there has been no shortage of such shlock written on this topic elsewhere. I claim no moral superiority on this or any other issue. I am a Florida grad, after all.