As if the physical and sexual abuse were not enough, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky decided he was going to hurt the victims of his crimes one final time at his sentencing hearing on Oct. 9 – by calling them liars.
“I did not do these alleged disgusting acts,” a defiant Sandusky said at the hearing, as reported by The New York Times.
Though Sandusky’s denials didn’t do anything to gain sympathy from Judge John M. Cleland, who sentenced the now disgraced former coach to 30-60 years in prison for the act of sexually abusing nearly a dozen young boys just over a decade ago, his words did hit their mark on a different level. By denying his guilt, Sandusky was able to re-open the mental scars left inside the minds of those he once abused ‑ proven by statements made by some of the victims, now young adults, at the same hearing.
As stated in the same New York Times article:
“We both know exactly what happened,” said one of three victims who stood and spoke.
Another said: “I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body, something that will never be erased from my memory. Jerry has harmed children, of which I am one of them.”
Another victim wrote: “There is no remorse. There is no acknowledgment of regret, only evil.”
Judging by the low character he displayed in committing these heinous acts in the first place, it should have come as no surprise that Sandusky didn’t show any remorse for his crimes. [However, it does beg the question: Where is the human decency – the feelings of sympathy for young people who, from this day forward, will likely live with anger and a distrust for their fellow man?]
Along with Sandusky, there is plenty of blame to go around to those who were also employed at Penn State at the time of the attacks. The first person that comes to mind – partly because he was the most famous -is the former head coach of the Nittany Lions, the late Joe Paterno, who, as an iconic legend of the school, wrongfully decided that the brand name of “Penn State Football” was more important to protect than the welfare of minors entrusted to his assistant coach, and friend. You could also look many prominent members of the university’s administration, who, despite constantly hearing the rumors, let Sandusky act right under their noses – and, directly on their campus.
Although it is unfortunate that those in charge at Penn State did not have the courage to do what was right at the time, let us not have such a pile-on mentality, or be so cavalier, to continue to direct our time and energy to denouncing the university – one which has produced, and employed, many great minds and upstanding citizens during its long history. Now, we should be shifting our focus away from Penn State, and towards the difficult challenge of finding better ways to prevent the sexual abuse of minors all across America, while at the same time striving to reach a better understanding as to why it happens in the first place.
It is true there will never be a way to completely stop the sexual abuse of minors, but does that mean working towards trying to save just one more child from a once trusted adult by attaining more understanding of the subject matter is a waste of time? It doesn’t. By now as a country we should have reached the point where “people are sick” is no longer a good enough excuse as to why logical adults are turning a blind eye to one of America’s saddest realities. It may be a losing battle ‑ with the problem likely running deeper, and happening more frequently, than we could ever imagine or would want to believe ‑ but, sometimes, we just have to fight the good fight anyway.
Looking for good in the situation, perhaps the national spotlight directly at Sandusky will ultimately motivate the country to look deeper, strive harder, to find a better way to prevent the problem of sexual abuse against minors. Unfortunately, it is too late to save those who were scarred by Sandusky. Maybe, though, just maybe, someone will be saved because of him.