Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout.
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You can say this for the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State: it gave the Vatican a break.
Indeed, just the other day, the government of Ireland pulled its ambassador from the Vatican amid the aftermath of a large-scale sex abuse scandal in the Catholic country - one that the Vatican covered up for years.
Just as the child sex abuse incidents in Ireland, America and around the world tested the faith of Catholics in the Pope vs. the horrifying immoral acts of some priests who were sexual predators of children, the legendary football powerhouse of Penn State - and its all-time, game-winning, record-holder coach, Joe Paterno - were tested against the cover-up of a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, who is alleged to have sexually abused at least eight boys.
Paterno was fired by the Penn State board for ignoring at least one child abuse charge against Sandusky. According to The New York Times:
Upon learning about a suspected 2002 assault by Mr. Sandusky on a young boy in the football building's showers, Mr. Paterno redirected the graduate assistant who witnessed the incident to the athletic director, rather than notifying the police. Mr. Paterno said the graduate assistant who reported the assault, Mike McQueary, said only that something disturbing had happened that was perhaps sexual in nature. Mr. McQueary testified that he saw Mr. Sandusky having anal sex with the boy.
Just this month, Sandusky was finally charged with 40 counts relating to sexual child abuse by the Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelley, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Twenty of the 40 crimes with which Sandusky is charged allegedly took place during the time he worked for Paterno, including three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a first-degree felony.
One accuser, now 27, testified that Sandusky initiated contact with a "soap battle" in the shower that led to multiple instances of involuntary sexual intercourse and indecent assault at Sandusky's hands, a grand jury report said.
Indulging criminal and deviant behavior among football players and coaches is no new phenomenon in college sports, considering how football and basketball have become big-time fundraising machines for winning college programs. So it was with Paterno.
Thousands of students (estimates vary) rioted at Penn State in protest of the firing of Paterno. It was a small segment of the nearly 45,000 undergraduate and graduate students at what is considered one of the top public universities in the United States.
But it is still a bit disturbing to know that there is a significant segment of students who value a legendary football coach over the violation of young boys who were anally raped in the Penn State football shower.
No, Paterno is not charged with any deviant behavior, just with turning a blind eye to it.
The Los Angeles Times quotes a protesting Penn State student who sympathizes with Paterno:
James Choi, 18, a freshman from Baltimore, also thought the way Paterno was fired was unjust.
"He shouldn't have to go out this way," Choi said. "They should let him leave with his dignity."
Unfortunately for Paterno, he gave up his dignity and his moral authority when he chose not to tarnish the Penn State football brand over reporting the horror that happened in his team's shower room. As a result, Sandusky continued to violate young boys for years.
Football is a game that's over in three hours or so. The boys who he sexually abused will live with the scars for the rest of their lives.
Paterno is getting off easy. He just has to live with his conscience.