Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Fails Human Decency Test


Joe PaternoCollege football fans have long had a love/hate relationship with Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. Nittany Lions lovers have, naturally, loved the nation's winningest collegiate team leader. The rest of us have loathed JoePa's every move. But I don't think any of us were expecting his fall from grace to be wrapped up in horrors of the type that the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case have brought to State College, Pennsylvania.

A week ago, Joe Paterno was the college football coach we loved to hate. Today I think we can drop the guilt and just hate the man.

The chilling 23-page grand jury report details a young graduate assistant finding a 10-year-old boy essentially being raped in a shower by Sandusky. Shocked, he reported the sighting and all the disgusting details to Paterno. The famous coach called Athletic Director Tim Curley, higher than him in the chain of command at Penn State.

Wow. Joe Paterno made a phone call. Whoop-edy-doo. It takes a lot more than that to pass the human decency test.

The very idea of spending time with a man accused -- whether in court or by a graduate assistant -- of abusing children makes my skin crawl. People talk about keeping their kids away from child predators, but I, myself, wouldn't want to be in the same room with one. People who hurt kids are lower than low. And Joe Paterno worked side-by-side with one, even after he'd heard some of the most disturbing allegations in the history of college football.

When the case languished, the father of five and grandfather of 17 didn't call the cops himself. He didn't think about his three sons when they were just kids trusting a coach to teach them how to play football. He didn't think about the kids who read his children's book about Penn State football. And he didn't tell his one-time assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, that he makes his skin crawl just looking at him. Paterno had the opportunity to leave no rock unturned in the pursuit of justice, and he didn't!

So Joe Paterno doesn't seem to be guilty of anything that will take him into a court of law. Now we know he's guilty of being the kind of guy who puts the success of a football team ahead of human decency. I might have felt guilty for hating a guy for being successful on the gridiron. But there's no feeling bad about hating him for not doing everything he could to protect innocent children.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Did you turn to the cops?


Image via jkahnpsu/Flickr

coaches, football, college sports


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Dot Threshman Davies

While I think child abusers should be sent away for life (I can think of many other things I'd like done to THEM), I think Paterno did the right thing by passing the information on to those who should have done some investigation, then called the cops. Why didn't the graduate assistant who "saw" the incident report it to the police?  He had "first hand" knowledge! Where is his culpability in this incident?

What if the guy who came to Paterno had some ax to grind, or was relating "hearsay" or it had been a total fabrication?  Paterno (and the football team he's responsible for) would have been mired down in a messy defamation of character situation.  He probably assumed the informaton was erroneous,since he worked with (had known) Sandusky for years.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Dot, I seriously hope you have better judgement than you illustrated in your answer.  Otherwise, I hope you don't have kids.

I have not been in a situation like this, and I assure you, if I ever was, you would hear about it because I would make sure there was an investigation.  Joe Paterno can immediately go straight to Hell, where he'll hopefully get what he deserves for enabling a pedophile - and hopedfully, his sentence will involve being the repeated victim of a crime he turned a blind eye to.

PonyC... PonyChaser

I'm still on the fence on this one. I think Paterno is taking an unusual amount of heat, not because he "should have done something" but because he's ‘Joe Pa'. If he hadn't been the legendary coach that he is, I think people would be a lot more objective about the situation.

Dot makes an excellent point. We don't know the inside politics of this situation. We know NOW that Sandusky is (alleged to be) a dirtbag. But at the time, how do we know that the Grad Assistant didn't have some outside grudge against Sandusky? We don't know the personal relationships going on there. Perhaps the Grad Assistant and Sandusky had had dust-ups before, and then this G.A. comes to Paterno on the heels of one of them and makes this report? Paterno reported the incident (an isolated incident that he had no first-hand knowledge of) to his superior, who might have been responsible for investigating. The point is, we don't know.

But Paterno is taking more than his brunt of accusations because HE is the famous one here. We don't know what he was told. Perhaps what he was told didn't rise to the level of police reporting. The G.A. is saying *now* that he reported a "near rape", but what did he really report then? Did he say the same thing? Did he say that Sandusky was yelling at this kid? We just don't know.

I think we need to stand back and let the police do their work, before we burn any MORE witches at the stake. There's enough of that going on right now.

Cassi... Cassidhes_Mom

The only comment Dot made that I agree with is what about the graduate student? How can someone see that and just go tell the head coach? Why not stop it, call the police right there? They ALL bear blame for letting it happen and letting those poor kids down. They should have been protecting those kids' innocence, not their own backs.

Magen Kauffman

Everyone is all ready to lynch him and we don't even know ALL the details! All we know is what the news tells us. As far as I am aware, all Joe Pa knows about it is what a grad student told him he saw. He never witnessed the events himself. He did what he had to do and reported it to his superiors because he didn't have enough information to go to the police. The grad student who witnessed it didn't go to the police either and yet I don't see a lynch mob out for him! Why? Because he's not a famous football coach like Joe Pa!

Michele DeCresce

WITH THE REPUTATION Paterno has, he could have had the GOVERNOR of PENN. launch the investigation. He's the E.F. Hutton of College Football folks. HE chose to be invisible when he was a MONOLITH. I don't get his shying away from this.. but it is VERY Uncomfortable.. makes ME WONDER if he was abused by a man himself. Seems like the whole thing was just way too close and personal to him and he just froze... TOO BAD, Mr. MONOLITH...

Atlan... AtlantaPPDMom

The fact that anyone ever "loathed" Joe Paterno before or "loved to hate him" is news to me.  Please post evidence of this fact, prior to these allegations.  Otherwise?  This site will get a BIG unfollow and unlike from me.

Cecily Powell

Magen Kauffman, there is evidence to support the claims. It is the Grand Jury Report. It has sworn testimony of what those involved did and did not do AND there are lynch mobs out for the grad student because he was kept on as a wide receivers coach. So, do yourself a favor and read the grand jury report which again is sworn testimony before a grand jury and a judge to determine whether or not there was a crime and whether or not there is enough evidence to move to a trial. The state laws that were violated are quoted and testimony from a recorded phone call where Sandusky admitted his wrong doing to the mother of a victim. They all need to go; all of their reputations are ruined forever outside of Pennsylvania.

ericabb ericabb

Guilty until proven innocent.  It's the American way.

nonmember avatar Finnja

I think Paterno gets a lot of heat, because he had such stature. If he had wanted Sandusky investigated, he could easily have made it happen. The 'superiors' he reported to would have acted differently, had he made it clear HE WANTED the issue investigated. I mean, he even overruled Spanier at times!
And if he had really thought the accusations were slander by McQueary - why would he have kept such a creep in his team!?! Yet, McQueary was promoted the following season... Why, for keeping his mouth shut?

1-10 of 21 comments 123 Last