By Mary Kuniski
When I was ready to go to college, my parents gave me one choice. It was Penn State or Penn State or Penn State. Twenty-one members of my family before me shouted the rallying cry, “We Are!” When the news came out that, Jerry Sandusky, who had been the assistant coach of the Penn State Football team under Joe Paterno from 1969 to 1999, had been sexually abusing young boys during his entire career using Penn State football as his cover, I simply could not believe this had occurred. And who knew about this horrible violation of human rights? I had to learn more.
Jerry Sandusky and his wife established a charity called The Second Mile, which he used to gain access to young boys. He also used his power at Penn State to raise funds and gain access to more boys to abuse. The story is long and for the sake of the reader I am not going to report on the entire horrendous tale. Jerry Sandusky was ultimately convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse on June 22, 2012 and put away for a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 60 – a life sentence for a man who was 68 at the time of his conviction.
What is so shocking is how many individuals claimed they knew nothing about the abuse, probably because they turned their own blind eye to protect their own interests. Sandusky’s wife allowed the abuse to occur in her own home with children screaming in the basement, although she was never convicted.
Joe Paterno, one of the most respected football coaches of all-time tried to protect his loved football team from ruin. He was not successful. His precious team received a $60 million fine, all victories from 1998 to 2011 were vacated, they were given a four-year bowl ban, annual football scholarships were reduced by 10 for four years, and they five years of probation in which Penn State would work with the NCAA monitors. Joe Paterno died at 85 of lung cancer, just 74 days after being forced to resign. His statue has been removed and paintings of him across the campus have him painted out. Some say he died of a broken heart, not for the abused children, but for losing the acclaim of the football team he groomed for 46 years.
Several high-level Penn State Administrators were convicted as well and continue to fight the conviction in court.
Penn State was always more than a great football team. It was a terrific school. I feel sadness not for the football team, but for the 45 plus boys who had their lives ruined and the potential of so many more. Children’s Recovery Center of Horry and Georgetown Counties in Myrtle Beach sees more than its fair share of children patients such as these. Won’t you please open you heart and DONATE what you can today to save a child?
(The opinions noted in this article are strictly the authors. Facts on this case have been pulled from publicly available resources)