It is long past the time Penn State University sets the record straight on the Sandusky scandal and there's no better way to do it than by saying it as Joe's statue is returned to its spot next to Beaver Stadium. Here's what PSU should finally say.
On November 9, 2011, a small group of members of the Penn State University (PSU) Board of Trustees (BOT) removed Joe Paterno from his coaching position without a review of the available facts and without a vote.
On July 22, 2012, former PSU President Rodney Erickson unilaterally, that is without a vote, decided to remove Paterno's statue. Erickson did so based on a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh that similarly was not reviewed.
Louis Freeh, facing a defamation lawsuit over statements made in his report now claims he was simply offering opinions. At the time of his national press conference, he referred to his opinions as "reasonable conclusions."
Those conclusions were unquestioningly accepted by the media and reported as facts -- especially those concerning Joe Paterno.
Today is the day to set the record straight.
Joe Paterno acted appropriately the one and only time Jerry Sandusky's inappropriate behavior was reported to him.
To make it perfectly clear, Paterno reported Jerry Sandusky in accordance with PSU's policies and Pennsylvania's laws in 2001.
He did not turn a blind eye to abuse as has been falsely claimed by the media and others.
Louis Freeh falsely claimed Paterno had followed the 1998 investigation of Sandusky closely -- even though that claim was refuted by the evidence, or lack thereof, in his report.
More recent claims of reports of Sandusky's behavior to Paterno in 1971 and 1976 have been made by charlatan victims. Anyone familiar with the pattern of Sandusky's criminal behavior and common sense would immediately recognize those claims as false.
There can't be a worse way to dishonor Sandusky's victims than the acts of those who made false claims in pursuit of monetary gains.
It is also deeply disturbing that the attorneys paid by PSU to mediate settlements with claimants did not validate those claims and expended PSU funds unnecessarily.
When the media accepted the Freeh Report's conclusion that it was access to PSU's football facilities that enabled his crimes, it did so without checking the trial verdicts that plainly revealed Sandusky's crimes were committed in various locations off campus up to 2001, then exclusively off campus in the years after.
Freeh's shallow conclusion that access to facilities enabled Sandusky's crimes on campus would be much akin to concluding a man who committed a mass murder of his family in their home was able to do so because he had a key to the house.
Regretfully, PSU paid $8.5 million dollars for that conclusion and others that were similarly flawed.
The University flatly rejects the findings of the Freeh Report and will file a lawsuit for the recovery of monies paid for his fraudulent investigation.
It is also very disturbing that the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney general and its media accomplices have misinformed the public at every step of the Sandusky scandal and have wrongly focused and placed blame on PSU and Paterno, respectively, for covering up Sandusky's crimes.
Overwhelming evidence revealed that Sandusky was able to perpetrate his crimes for many years because he was a pillar of the community, acquaintance offender who convinced those around him that his actions with children were altruistic. Even when he was committing acts of abuse, he was able to mask them through deception.
However, the evidence is indisputable that PSU officials reported Sandusky's questionable behavior to individuals outside the University, who were responsible for the care of children, in 1998 and 2001.
In short, the evidence does not support a cover-up or concealment.
Evidence during the Sandusky investigation and afterward also revealed that agents of Pennsylvania's child protection system routinely fail to identify the signs of child sexual victimization and child abuse. Moreover, a recent report by the Pennsylvania Auditor General revealed that the child abuse reporting system, ChildLine, also is dysfunctional.
|The Paterno statue is a symbol of "success with honor"|
that is shared by Penn State grads, friends, and fans
Joe Paterno's dying wish was that there would be a "silver lining" that came out of the Sandusky scandal.
That "silver lining" is the evidence that demands improvements be made to Pennsylvania's child protection system.
Victim advocates should not be spending their time and energy on vindictive acts, such as protesting the return of a statue. Instead, they should be focused on helping victims and doing all they can to prevent the next child from being abused or victimized.
Joe Paterno's statue was created in honor of him being the all-time winningest coach in major college football.
Interestingly, many individuals, including members of the Paterno family and Joe himself, did not believe a statue fit with his belief that honoring the group or team was more important than individual honors.
Joe Paterno, the coach, always took time to thank and give credit to those around him and those across alumni, fans, and friends the country who supported him.
Over the years, the Paterno statue became a symbol of something all Penn Staters share -- a decades long ideal of "success with honor."
Today, we restore the Paterno statue to its rightful spot next to Beaver Stadium to honor the accomplishments on not just Coach Paterno, but his players and all of those individuals he inspired over six decades.
PSU also believes the best way to honor the Sandusky victims is by finally revealing the truth about how he committed his crimes, the failures in Pennsylvania's child protection system to identify signs of child abuse, the Commonwealth's lax oversight of charities involved in youth services activities, and to make good on our promise to be the nation's leader in the education and prevention of the epidemic of child abuse.