If the allegations are true, evil visited central Pennsylvania. It came disguised, not as a demon or monster or some fictional horror depicted on page and screen, but as these things so often play out in reality, in the guise of a caring soul.
If allegations are true, young boys were stripped of their innocence and someone will pay. If the allegations are true, Jerry Sandusky ruined young lives, his own, and that of his friends under the charade of helping at-risk youths. Reports put the number of victims at 20, with no guarantee that is the end.
Penn State officials focus on their liability and stay silent. Huge lawsuits will be filed and ultimately won. Officials seek to minimize damage, not deliver truth. For a university that prided itself on doing things the right way, this is a disgrace.
Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno wanted to go public on Tuesday, but the university said no. So reporters, having flocked to the football complex to question him, swarmed his house and waited for a word that never really came. Students also gathered at his house, chanting support and encouragement for a man who has lived his life doing so much good for so many.
Support among the university's board of trustees appears to be eroding.
Paterno briefly appeared on his way to practice (the Nittany Lions host Nebraska in a big game dwarfed by bigger tragedy) and said little other than he wanted to talk, but couldn’t right now.
Paterno bears no apparent legal liability, but in the court of public opinion, his morality is under fire. What did he know, when did he know it and why didn’t he do anything to stop it? How could Sandusky be allowed to continue to work out at Penn State facilities when this kind of investigation was going on? Why didn’t anybody at the university check to see if children really were in danger, make their safety a priority?
Maybe it was just stupidity and blind loyality, Penn State officials refusing to believe that a man they thought was a friend and a good person who had done so many positive things for the program and university could really be a monster. Maybe they didn’t take the allegations seriously, didn’t consider the damage allegedly being done to the innocent. Maybe it was the human need to cover up sin, to protect their own and the university’s reputation, to keep it in house and preserve an image that was, it seems, a lie.
Paterno seemed determined to coach forever, a legacy of greatness and integrity and championships assured. Not anymore. Maybe his failing was keeping his faith in Sandusky and the chain of command, that the allegations couldn’t be true, that it was distortion and not fact, that the right thing to do was to let others in the university decide and pretend it didn’t happen.
In our society, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. What seems truth today may vanish amidst the complexities of our legal system.
And yet …
Evil visited central Pennsylvania, the sex abuse scandal widens, and we’ll all live with the consequences.
Today Indiana reaps the benefit of coach Tom Crean’s recruiting rampage. Five players from the Class of 2012 are expected to sign, giving the Hoosiers, depending on who you listen to, either the nation’s No. 1 or No. 2 class.
Point guard Yogi Ferrell, combo guard Ron Patterson, small forward Jeremy Hollowell, power forward Hanner Perea and center Peter Jurkin are set to join a program on the rise. All but Jurkin are ranked in the top 30 nationally at their positions. Ferrell, Perea and Hollowell are in the top seven at their positions.
Crean still awaits the decision of shooting guard Gary Harris. The Hamilton Southeastern standout, ranked No. 12 nationally by Scout.com, a national Internet recruiting service, is also considering Purdue, Michigan State and Kentucky. He’s expected to announce his decision by the end of the week. He averaged 18.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 steals last season for Hamilton Southeastern.
Yeah, it's a very big decision.