Jerry Sandusky may have been allowed a free pass by both university officials and head coach Joe Paterno to silently exit the back door of Penn State, but he has been escorted into a prison cell’s front door where hinges swing wide with welcome.
CNN reported not so breaking news last Thursday that several entities collaborated to sweep Jerry Sandusky’s ongoing years of abuse under the proverbial rug citing an attempt to avoid the scathing publicity it would bring.
In a Laurinburg Exchange column published eight months ago, I wrote, “Everyone who remotely had an inkling of what was occurring at Penn State shares the responsibility for the altered lives of these boys, and may they fall like dominoes if they did not accept that responsibility.” Well, I’m no soothsayer, fortune teller, or even palm reader, but since that column, the clanking of dominoes is still being heard. In this game, players are supposed to keep their dominoes hidden. Sandusky was representative of the hidden set of dominoes for decades. Two ways that a game of dominoes ends is when a player has played all their tiles or when a game is blocked. This game of dominoes may never end, but it has been blocked. Details of the blockage are found in the Freeh Report which mentions the critical need for recommendations among those including compliance with laws governing the protection of the lives of anyone who may ever again be victimized, that specific compliance being the Clery Act.
College officials are mandated reporters of abuse on campus or of abuse linked to their employees and/or affiliates. Jerry Sandusky was all three: employee, affiliate, and abuser. Penn State officials are co-conspirators because the appropriate personnel did not explicitly adhere to the stipulations of the Clery Act since they did not want to have to wash the dirt from their hands for filthying the university’s puritan image. Doing so, or not, both gives the implication and makes a bold statement that the university’s prestige means more than the corruption and exploitation of children. Officials at Penn State killed the spirits of these kids by not taking the precautions to stop this predator.
The officials seem to have allowed themselves to skirt the Clery Act because they apparently, and perhaps conveniently, assigned an overworked lone ranger who was tasked with informing and training others about the components of the Clery Act and making sure they were in compliance. Despite compliance being a gargantuan responsibility, it seems that he was just too darn busy doing his other jobs to effectively ensure that the university was in compliance.
According to PennLive, and former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report, “even after The Patriot-News broke the story of a child sex abuse scandal reaching into the highest echelons of Penn State’s power structure, the university’s policies existed only in draft form.”
The Clery Act was both named and enacted in honor of Jeanne Clery. A shuddering irony is that Ms. Clery, a young college freshman, was a student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, just three hours and four minutes away from State College, PA, when she was raped and murdered in 1986. The main purpose of the Clery Act, according to PennLive, is to highlight the underreporting of crime on college campuses.
Another irony of Penn State’s virtual ignorance and lack of proper implementation of the Clery Act is that during the enactment of the act, the abuse was going on and on and on with no end in sight and no rest for those defenseless boys whose manhood was literally ripped away from them. Who really knows, but Sandusky and the victims, how long before the Clery Act the abuse had begun to take place?
Maybe, the lack of emphasis was for the protection of the college officials’ very own mascot - the Penn State predator.