The fall of Penn State

The abuse scandal that rocked the world of sports

The Penn State Scandal is a sad story of those who failed to act and could have done more to prevent more years of devastation. At the end of it all was a man, Jerry Sandusky, charged with 45 counts of sexual abuse and a trail of young victims over a 15-year period.

Jerry Sandusky started coaching Penn State football back in 1969 as the defensive line coach. He had started as a defensive end just a few years prior for Penn State. In 1977, he became the team’s defensive coordinator, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1999.

The same year he got his promotion he had started a children’s charity and foster service called “The Second Mile.” The charity was highly regarded even receiving recognition first President Bush. However, it would be in 1994 that Sandusky would use the same charity to find his first victim.

The boy, only identified as victim seven, was a part of the program for a couple of years before Sandusky started inviting him to come to the football games and spend Friday nights at his house. This was accompanied by what the victim described as uncomfortable touching. He would have been younger than ten-years-old at the time.

The next incident would come in 1998. Eleven-years-old at the time, Victim six came home with wet hair reportedly telling his mother Sandusky had showered with him and given him hugs. The mother reported the incident, triggering an investigation that would not go far.

Sandusky admitted to showering with Victim six as well as others. He also claimed it wouldn’t happen again. The investigation ended though when District Attorney Ray Gricar warranted there were no criminal charges, and the case was closed.

A year later in 1999, Sandusky retired from his position and was given an “emeritus” label. The label allowed him to continue using campus facilities. A year later, janitor Jim Calhoun said he saw Sandusky performing sexual acts with a boy in the showers. He was told to report it but never did fearing he would lose his job.

In 2002, graduate student Mike McQueary came across a similar situation. McQueary reportedly saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy who appeared to be 10 years old. McQueary reported what he saw to head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno talked to athletic director Tim Curley.

In the end, they decided the best course of action was to take Sandusky’s key to the locker rooms away. A report also made its way to the university president, Graham Spanier. Spanier also added to the punishment by barring Sandusky from bringing any more children on campus. Throughout the entire process, not one person chose to report anything to the police.

It wouldn’t be until 2009 that police would be involved. A mother reported that her high school son was being sexually abused by Sandusky. Then in 2010, McQueary would testify what he saw. Other victims would later continue to report.

In the end, Paterno and Spanier were never indicted but were fired from their positions. It would not be until 2017 that Curley, Schultz and Spanier were found guilty of misdemeanor charges of child endangerment.

The NCAA would go on to punish the Penn State program with a $60 million fine, four-year postseason ban, scholarship reductions and vacation of all victories from 1998 to 2011. The Big Ten Conference would also add a $13 million fine to the list.

Sandusky was given a minimum of 30 years jail time and a max of 60 for his 45 counts of sexual abuse.

To this day the discussion still continues. Much of the debate revolves around Joe Paterno. Many choose to believe he’s as guilty as anyone else and had covered information all the way back to the ’70s. Others say Paterno knew very little of what went on.

On the field he had great success, but his legacy is up in the air. It depends on who you ask. The web of ‘he told him, and he told him, and so on,’ has left a lot of questions on the case that still go unanswered.

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