Jerry Sandusky Should Never Have Had Open Access to High Schools

foodball fieldIf the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal has taught us anything, it's how deep our capacity for denial runs. We've seen Penn State fans rioting against Sandusky's accusers, and we've wondered how Jerry Sandusky's wife could not have known. Now, a mother of one of the victims has come forward with more details -- and they paint a shocking picture about Central Mountain High School officials, its policies, and its varsity football coach.

No one wanted to believe that Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing boys -- not just because he's a sports hero who has mentored young athletes, but also because untangling the scandal would be painful and complicated for the whole community. Still, how could so many people live in such deep denial? And what school sports policies allowed the abuse to go on for so long? 

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Mother One, as she is referred to in the press, says her son's school counselor and principal were reluctant to call the police when they first heard her son's story. She recalls her son was sobbing while they discussed what action to take. "Let's call the police!" she said -- three times. All she got were stares. Her son rocked in his chair and shook his head, shouting, "See, they don't believe me!" God, I want to cry every time I read that.

Strike one: School administrators now claim they called the police right away, but Mother One says that they dragged their feet. Regardless, reports of sexual abuse should be taken seriously by schools and brought to the authorities -- not swept under the rug.

As she was untangling the twisted turn of events, Mother One learned that Sandusky had been taking her son out of school a few times a week -- sometimes every day. She was not informed and had not given her permission to have her son removed so frequently by a non-family member.

Strikes two and three: The school should have required Sandusky to request permission to remove students from classes. For that matter, Sandusky's open access to school grounds is highly questionable. The school also should have been suspicious about a coach who takes students out of class almost every day. WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?!?

Later on, the school football coach began harassing the victim. Word of the victim's accusations had reached high school varsity football coach Steve Turchetta after the family's psychologist called the school to say they should ban Sandusky from campus. Other football team family members began harassing the victim as well. He had to withdraw from the school altogether.

Strikes three and four: I can see how the school would need to tell the football coach why Sandusky was banned, but they should have protected the victim's identity. They could have even kept the details private and just said Sandusky was "under investigation" for an undisclosed allegation. Also, Coach Turchetta should never have repeated the details and especially the victim's name to other families.

Mother One says that her son is plagued by nightmares every night. They no longer feel safe. However, she also says her son's main concern is preventing this from ever happening to anyone else again. As Huffington Post reports, she and the family's psychologist "hope that Penn State will learn from this scandal, re-evaluate the policies that they say allowed Sandusky to continue his actions for so long, and perhaps allow the victims themselves to help craft any new policies."

I don't care what kind of football superstar is mentoring students. I don't care how valuable he is in connecting students with scholarships and opportunities. There are clearly a lot of things the school and Coach Turchetta got wrong to enable Sandusky to continue his heinous abuse. I only hope other schools and coaches are paying attention and rethinking and rewriting their own policies.

Are you surprised at the level of denial by the coach and school officials? Do you think sports celebrities get too many special privileges?

 

Image via nightthere/Flickr

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