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Monday, November 7, 2011

Without Question, It's Time for Joe to Go

For 23 years, I’ve worked as a minister to teenagers from all walks of life.  I have witnessed, dealt with, or counseled just about every kind of issue or problem that a student between grades 7 and 12 could possibly have.

Students may battle with demons from all types of issues:  physical abuse, divorce, family alcoholism, substance abuse, whatever.  Name the virus and there is a teenager who has to battle it.

Of all these things, nothing is worse than the train wreck of a student trying to cover the scars of sexual abuse.  They may eventually learn to cope, maybe even function as a relatively normal-looking member of society.  But they will never, ever get over it, never get it to go away.

That’s why Joe Paterno has to go.  And the rest of his accomplices at Penn State need to go with him.

This isn’t tattoos or jersey sales or dinners/cars/cash.  This is sexual abuse, an offense that can destroy the life of child in a matter of seconds.  This makes Ohio State’s “crimes” look like a jaywalking ticket.

Any responsible adult in a position that vaguely resembles authority is accountable for preventing sexual abuse of children.  Adults who deny this responsibility should be forced to spend the rest of their days listening over and over and over to some of the horror stories that I have heard. 

Perhaps they should be forced to consider something so wretched happening to their own child, but I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  Still, it’s not necessarily an unfitting punishment for someone who covers for a child molester.

Joe Pa and his cronies in the PSU athletic department can spin this any way they want.  Protecting a child molester is exactly what they did.  Even if they are not criminally liable, they are morally bankrupt for not following up on the inuendo and allegations surrounding Jerry Sandusky.

It really doesn’t matter if Sandusky is guilty.  If there is even a hint of impropriety involving a child, it needs to be investigated by someone higher up than the campus security guards making $8.50 an hour.  And everyone, including the football coach, had an obligation to make sure that happened.

Paterno’s canned statement to the media just doesn’t cut it.  The “I have no recollection, Senator” defense may stand up in a court of law, but it is light years away from that high-minded morality that the Penn State faithful pull out as their default defense of Joe Pa.

Everyone—and I do mean everyone—that had any knowledge of this case needs to head to the liquor store and borrow some packing boxes.  If they don’t leave right now, they should resign or be dismissed by the end of the season. 

Spare me the histrionics about how much Paterno has done for the game, how many people he has helped, and how many young men he has guided.  This trumps all of it.  He contributed to the destruction of who knows how many young lives by ignoring the actions of his long-time assistant coach.

Put the legal issues aside.  If Joe Paterno is who he says that he is, He had an overwhelming ethical duty to report to the police, not the athletic director.  We’re talking about the lives of children.  This cannot be left in the hands of those who are more interested in looking out for their own interests.

And even the best of college ADs are all about their self-interests.

It’s time for Penn State to clean house.  The AD, the head of campus security, assistant coaches, secretaries, and even the university president should be out the door.

If the NCAA has any real concern for young people (and I have my doubts on that), they will make sure Paterno leaves, by the end of this season at the latest.  If they have any “onions” at all, they will threaten to dig through every dumpster in State College unless they dismiss their coach and the majority of the administration.

They owe the children that suffered through this nothing less.  And if you disagree, give me a call or send me an email.  I’ll be glad to tell you what the victims of sexual abuse have to endure throughout their lives.

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