Editorial: Former Penn State leaders didn’t take enough action

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Last weekend, Penn State University played its first football game in 46 years without Joe Paterno serving as head coach. Paterno was fired after a child sex abuse investigation involving one of his assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, began last week.

Three days ago, Sandusky enraged many viewers in his interview with NBC’s Bob Costas on Rock Center. He was fired amid allegations of sexual abuse of young boys roughly eight years ago, and his admission that he “horsed around” with those boys was enough to sicken many of those watching the interview.

Yesterday, Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, who said he saw Sandusky molesting one of the boys in a locker room shower in 2002, also garnered negative attention. An email McQueary sent to a friend said McQueary did not physically stop Sandusky from molesting the boy but “made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room.”

There’s something in common with these three men as well as former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, former senior vice president for business and finance, who were both fired from the university.

It’s something perhaps epitomized by McQueary’s email.

Everybody had a chance to do something about this abuse but did not do enough.

How McQueary did not physically stop the sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy goes beyond understanding.

Sandusky said in his interview “I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg,”

How he didn’t consider that to be a possible violation of the child defies logic.

There’s no excuse for Paterno, Curley and Schultz failing to further pursue these allegations with authorities.

It’s reasonable that Paterno first went to his superior, Curley, but it’s not reasonable for him to never look into the matter again. That shouldn’t be an issue that slips someone’s mind.

Paterno’s departure from the university is no indictment on his storied coaching career, and it doesn’t mean people shouldn’t offer him support as he transitions into life after coaching.

It does mean he made a mistake, one that wasn’t illegal in his case but can’t be acceptable for somebody in such a high position of leadership. The same can be said for Curley and Schultz, though they have been charged with failing to report to police about Sandusky.

The recent events of Sandusky’s interview with Costas and McQueary’s email reflect the overarching problem in this situation. Nobody really wanted to take accountability.

The molestation occurred, and the report was passed up the chain of command. Those who have taken action (Paterno reporting to Curley and McQueary saying he verbally stopped the molestation) didn’t do the work that Sandusky’s alleged victims deserve. Those that did nothing (Curley and Schultz) hopefully do not represent the way our leaders act in the face of wrongdoing.

Penn State deserved better, and if the allegations prove true, the boys scarred by Sandusky certainly need to know that these individuals’ choices aren’t acceptable in our society.