Then move onto the library and scrub away any remnants of Paterno’s name, because never again should the once-beloved coach have any hold over a community that once viewed him as an omnipotent king.
In sports, there is nothing worse than being called a coward. So blasphemous is that word, so offensive and heinous, it can ruin reputations and launch brawls. And now we know the ugly truth about Paterno: He was a coward of the very worst kind.
The cowardice is laid bare in the 267-page report released Thursday by former FBI director Louis Freeh and his team of investigators. Paterno actively took part in a conspiracy to conceal the raping of children. Not once over a span of at least 14 years, as his top lieutenant continued to flaunt his young prey, did Paterno do a single thing to fight for those boys.
When they desperately needed his voice, he remained silent. When they cried for a protector, a strong authoritative figure to make sure their rapist would never again come near, Paterno instead worried about his precious program.
And he had the gall to insist in a letter he supposedly wrote many months ago that this horrific scandal had nothing to do with football? Now we know why the Paterno family went on such a PR offensive this past week. They conveniently held onto that letter until the day before the Freeh report was released, so the public might again be reminded of Paterno’s vast achievements.
Whatever good he might have done in his 85 years on the planet—however many lives he affected for the better, however many games his teams won, however many millions of dollars and sponsors he brought to the university—all of that gets tossed aside in this harsh light.
At his core, this supposed great leader of men has been exposed as a narcissistic snake, a bullying, gutless yellow belly.
Rather than use his extraordinary clout to halt the abuse and haul Jerry Sandusky out from under his convenient facade, Paterno chose to focus on his own legacy, to engage in an active cover-up. The conspiracy went all the way to the top of the food chain, the report eviscerating Paterno, president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz for failing to act “against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
“In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the university—Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley—repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the board of trustees, the Penn State community and the public at large,” noted the report.
It’s far worse than we ever expected. From Freeh’s first interview with a subject on the day before Thanksgiving of 2011 to his final interview last Friday, he and his team spoke with more than 400 sources and pored through reams of documents to uncover damning, sickening evidence that the most powerful men at PSU enabled a child rapist in their midst.
All the way back in 1998, when Sandusky was the target of a criminal investigation, Paterno knew there were serious concerns about his top defensive coordinator. But up until his death of lung cancer in January, Paterno always maintained ignorance about the ’98 case. So he’s a liar as well as a coward. Hailed forever as the most ethical coach in football history, Paterno was really a heartless fraud.
“The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s,” the report reads.
“At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also failed to alert the Board of Trustees about the 1998 investigation … None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct.
“In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity.”
Not once did Paterno ever poke his head into his buddy’s office and say, “Hey, Jer, maybe you should stop bringing around these guests?” That’s what they called Sandusky’s prey, his victims. Guests. The fantastic four are delusional criminals, all of them.
At a press conference in Philadelphia on Thursday morning, Freeh was asked if he believed Paterno could have stopped Sandusky’s predatory behavior. “Many, many witnesses we spoke to described Mr. Paterno as one of the most powerful leaders on campus,” responded Freeh.
“I think it’s a very strong and reasonable inference that he could have done so if he wished.”
It’s reasonable to wonder how Paterno would have reacted if Sandusky’s “guests”—and the stomach turns while typing that—hadn’t been mostly children from broken homes, but kids who were promising athletes. Because at the heart of the cover-up lies the football culture, so indomitable at so many universities but especially invincible in Happy Valley, where Paterno pulled the strings for nearly five decades.
The rapes of these boys occurred in the Lasch Building, said Freeh. Paterno had his office in the Lasch Building. Sandusky brought his victims to football camps supported by PSU, paraded them through the football facilities.
“There are more red flags here than you can count over a long period of time,” Freeh said.
To all the fools who rioted after Paterno was justifiably fired, please report to Beaver Stadium to aid in civilly bringing down that statue. To all the sycophants who still proudly wear their “Joe Knows” T-shirts, kindly spend a day volunteering with young victims of sexual assault. It’s precisely because of silence and fear that a staggering number of children—one in six, and that’s a conservative estimate—continue to be victimized by monsters like Sandusky.
Paterno and his backslappers have always portrayed him as confused man who couldn’t possibly have understood the depravities former Nittany Lions captain Mike McQueary said he witnessed in 2001. Here’s more hogwash from the supreme leader.
“You did the right thing. Now it’s up to me to decide what we want to do,” is how Freeh described Paterno’s response to McQueary, who saw Sandusky raping a boy in the football showers. Also, it was a Friday, and Paterno, being such a great and thoughtful leader, didn’t want to ruin anyone’s weekend.
According to Freeh, Curley, Spanier and Schultz wanted to report Sandusky to child welfare authorities and to the charity he founded, The Second Mile. But after consulting with Paterno, the plan was changed to keep the allegations in house.
“Their failure to protect the February 9, 2001 child victim, or make attempts to identify him, created a dangerous situation for other unknown, unsuspecting young boys who were lured to the Penn State campus and football games by Sandusky and victimized repeatedly by him,” said the report.
“Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity,” it adds.
Indeed, that victim still hasn’t been identified. Wonder what ever happened to him? Perhaps as Sandusky serves a life sentence in prison for his heinous crimes on young boys, he’ll eventually shed some light on that boy’s whereabouts.
These past seven months, clearly, haven’t hardened Freeh. As a former prosecutor, he’s dealt with the lowest kind of slime, mobsters and politicians and bankers and murderers, but when he spoke off-script about just one of the investigation’s unbearable turns, the disgust and incredulity in his voice was beyond clear.
Think of the janitors, Freeh said. It was their job to clean and maintain the facilities in a building where boys were being raped. After one of those janitors, a Korean War veteran, witnessed Sandusky assaulting a child in the showers in 2000, he told his colleagues that never had he seen anything so horrific.
“The janitors knew if they blew the whistle, they’d be fired,” Freeh said “They were afraid to take on the football program. It’s like going against the president of the United States.
“If that’s the culture on the bottom, God help the culture on top.”
With its bronze finger raised to signify Penn State—or maybe the coach himself—is No. 1, the statue of Paterno now serves to taunt every child victim.
Blow the damn thing up.