The Enablers We Keep

I’m having trouble even processing all of what has happened since Monday. For days we’ve been inundated with the ongoing fake news saga of the NBA Lockout, then there was the untimely death of hip hop’s beloved Heavy D. But nothing could’ve prepared us for the downfall of Penn State’s illustrious athletic department. 5 years from now, ESPN will have a 30 for 30 film about this. It will indeed be their highest rated broadcast since that day in July 2010.

As with many of my news-related posts, I preface this with a few statements:

* I don’t feel sorry for, nor do I empathize with Joe Paterno. I respect his athletic legacy, but failure to report knowledge or suspicion of a crime is unforgivable…period!

Jerry Sandusky (in white) and 1 of his enablers, Joe Paterno

* While it’s easy to villify the entire Penn State athletic department (past and present), the only true villain here is Jerry Sandusky

* The Penn State community is heavily divided because they aren’t willing to separate fact from fiction and reality from perception

As hard as it was to read, I did make it 60% through the grand jury testimony in this situation. Along the way of Sandusky’s nearly 20 years of physically and sexually abusing young boys, there were eyewitnesses who corroborated the victims’ stories. Victim after victim, there was always an adult who saw something or heard something but did nothing. And when I say “did nothing”, I’m referring specifically to role of the Grad Asst; who testified to actually seeing Sandusky performing anal sex on a 10 year old victim on Penn State’s school grounds! Instead of going directly to the police, he 1st told his father who told him to report what he saw to Joe Paterno. Paterno then followed this bullsh!t chain of command by getting the athletic director and the SVP of Finance and Business involved. Long story short (you can read the full testimony here, if you have the stomach for it), Paterno did nothing, the AD lied to police, and the GA didn’t have the balls to do something more.

I work in corporate America, so I know all about the proper protocol for reporting egregious acts. But at some point, your moral compass has to mean more to you than a job. To me, as a 28 year old functioning adult, there is no way in hell I’d just turn an apathetic eye after I’d seen such a deplorable act against a child going on at my school. So in my eyes, this GA was just 1 of many adults who ignored their conscience.

More than anyone else, the number 1 enabler that nobody, not 1 person, has mentioned is the role of Sandusky’s wife and family played in all of this. Through his foundation, Sandusky had immediate and consistent contact with his victims. Many of them spent nights in the Sandusky home. Now, you cannot make me believe that all of this time, his wife didn’t know what was going on. Women by nature have a heightened awareness when it comes to children. So there is no way Sandusky’s wife didn’t know that he was molesting and abusing the young boys in their basement. Why is she not being casted as a villain? Why is nobody calling her to the carpet? Because she was a woman? GTFOH! The fact that she ignored some obvious signs and let this sh!t go on in her home makes her just as bad as Sandusky himself.

But let’s be transparent and honest here, where were the parents in all of this? The foundation headed by Sandusky, The Second Mile, specific goal was to help the kids that were underprivileged. When we hear about the sexual abuse of children, the victims are often preyed upon because they come from broken homes where no father is present. This is just textbook M.O of molesters. Therefore, it shocks me that as recent as 2000 (when Sandusky came into contact with a new victim), a parent would still allow their child to sleep at the home of a male coach by themselves. I don’t have kids, however I do know that I would never allow my son to sleep over at a grown ass man’s house.

I can understand that as a single mother, it’s hard to raise a son. There are some very critical lessons that a mother just can’t  teach her son. Yet at the same time, as a parent, it’s your job to be more vigilant about who you allow your children.

Like I said, legacy aside, I don’t feel bad for Paterno not 1 bit. The only true victims here are the boys who had to suffer the mental, emotional, and physical manipulation at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. He used his position at the prestigious university to silence and control the victims and their parents. Paterno, along with Penn State’s hierarchy of administrators, allowed this abuse to go on by not doing their due diligence. The only reason why everybody is so focused on Paterno is because he’s the name we know. He is the face of the Nittany Lions! Instead of doing the right thing, he merely reported what he was told (legally hearsay and almost always inadmissible btw) and kept it moving being the face of PSU football. Could he have done more? ABSOLUTELY! Bottom line, Paterno enabled his friend and colleague to commit multiple crimes on school grounds. Sandusky’s wife enabled her husband to be the monster he is by never asking any questions.

It sickens me to know that there are people in this world who feel like “not my kid, not my problem.” I’m sure in many of our own families, there’s a touchy-feely uncle or an older cousin that nobody ever leaves their kids around. But why do we enable the behavior that we know is wrong? I said this same point a few weeks ago — we as a society have a bad habit of being afraid to speak up. Whether it’s fear of losing our job, fear of being ostracized, or even fear of being wrong. I’m sure it’s an insurmountable amount of pressure when you make such a strong accusation of child molestation; especially if the offender is a friend you thought you knew. For me though, when it comes to crimes that involved the innocence of a child, I’d rather report my suspicions and have the investigation prove me to be a liar than to allow a child to be abused and I say nothing.

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