I went to Catholic schools until college, and I remember the whispers about some of my Jesuit teachers in high school. Back then they were just rumors. Looking back I wonder how many of those rumors were true.
I think that when people are confronted by extraordinary events they will go out of their way to rationalize what they’ve seen. I can just imagine Assistant Coach McQueary walking finding Sandusky in the showers with a boy and thinking, “He can’t be doing that. The boy has to be older than that” But then thinking it over he realizes that yep, it’s what he thinks it is. He panics, then acts like a bureaucrat and follows the chain of command. It’s the easiest way to act, but that doesn’t make it right. Still, everyone’s happened upon something and not known how to respond. It could be something simple as a mother beating her child in the mall parking lot, or a college kid getting harassed by a large black dude on the street in Center City while walking to my car after work.
One of my rare acts of bravery was to get between this big black dude and a waif of a college kid. We went belly to belly, and using my deepest baritone I stared him in the eyes and shouted “Leave him alone.” The black guy was shocked that I had intervened, and the kid skittered away with his girlfriend. He backed off muttering obscenities at me, but I felt pretty good. I had remedied a similar situation that happened 20 years before where I had been hassled that way as a college kid. I’m proud of that moment, and McQueary could have been too had he stepped up and said, “Jerry, what the hell are you doing?” That’s all he had to do, and he would have been a hero – to his wife, and maybe even us. But not Penn State. Given the way Penn State reacted to the scandal, it’s possible he would have been fired.
What is truly damning is Penn State’s ignorance of Sandusky’s pattern of behavior. See this link for a timeline of events.
Penn State acted just like the Catholic Church acted with the priest abuse scandal. They deserve the same fate: Hell and eternal damnation. Children can survive abuse, but it damages them. They will never reach their full potential. It’s almost like they’ve lost an arm, a leg or been blinded. They will recover, and it’s possible they will even thrive – but they will never reach the potential they were born with. To a pedophile the moment passes quickly and becomes just one of many; for the pedo’s victim, the moment lasts forever and crowds everything else out.
That’s what separates crimes against children from other crimes. You mug me at gunpoint, and I’ll eventually get over it; I just might not sleep for a few days afterward. I’m fully grown; my personality is established and it’s not going to change through one such event. But a child is still growing, and a single event like what Sandusky did in the shower can have life-altering consequences.