Penn State University may have lost a hard fought, last home game of 2011 to a very talented Nebraska team, but as an institution, led by the young people that attend, and joined by the opposing team and fans, almost 100,000 turned to God before anything was done on Saturday November 12th.
|Pregame: Penn State (14) vs Nebraska (17) Penn State University 11/12/2011|
In what can only be described as a surreal setting, and to the chagrin of atheists and other non believers, players from both teams, along with coaches and staff, joined at midfield led in prayer by Ron Brown, one of the Nebraska Assistant coaches, for the victims of the unfolding sexual abuse scandal and for the strength and courage of all who have been so deeply effected by the revelation of abuse and the weeks current events.
To recap, the institution of PSU and the nation, was rocked by the alleged sexual abuse of children as young as 10 years old by former assistant Penn state Coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky who was retired in 1999 amid obscure circumstances, was allegedly caught having sex with what appeared to be a 10 year old boy in the lockeroom shower in 2002 by PSU assistant coach Mike McQueary. McQueary, who left the facility immediately in shock, the next day reported the incident to former football head coach Joe Paterno, who then reported the incident the next day to PSU Athletic Director Tim Curley. From there the story gets very muttled and confused because it seems that noone did anything else thereafter. There was no campus police report filed and no report made to the local state child welfare agency regarding what had been seen or what was alleged. There was nothing from PSU at least until the grand jury, investigating the incident released it's report. That's when everything seemed to break loose.
In addition to the victimization of children, one of the greatest ancillary fallouts from the incident was the firing of 46 year head coach Joe Paterno. For some reason, even though the administrators (Curley & Schultz) have only been placed on administrative leave, Coach Paterno along with the University President Spanier were fired from their positions by the Board Of Trustees of Penn State University for failure to act when information was made known to them regarding the incident.
However, the actions by the Trustees at this particular time raise more questions than anything else. Although I have listed certain facts in my previous post on the issue, I wanted to also raise this addition fact that causes me to question the University's role in this case and ultimately the role of everyone including you and me in suspected child abuse. Please note these additional facts.
- As stated Sandusky, who had been a PSU Assistant coach under Paterno for a number of years retired in 1999 from his duties both at the University and with the team. At the time he was under investigation from an alleged incident with a child who had already claimed sexual abuse by him.
- In 1999, Sandusky was able to negotiate his retirement package and university access with WHOEVER it was that was responsible for such agreements.
- Sandusky would receive and retain the keys to the university football locker room and 24 hour access to the facility. In other words Sandusky was NOT under the control or authority of Joe Paterno, neither were his actions regulated by the Penn State University football program or coaches.
The questions are, who allowed Sandusky to be on campus knowing the scope of what was potentially a criminal investigation at his official retirement in 1999? Who were the persons responsible for monitoring Sandusky's actions and hours spent at the University after his retirement? Remember, after 1999, his contact with PSU football staff and leadership was only incidental. It seems from the reports that Sandusky's arrival at the university was often well after all football staff and personnel was gone from or had already left the facility.
Am I My Brother's Keeper?
So who should actually be held responsible for Sandusky's actions and ultimately this incident?
Should the individual or individuals who negotiated his retirement arrangement be held responsible? After all they are the ones who gave him unfettered access and seemed to at a minimum enabled him to abuse children. Should the individual or individuals who failed to call the police be held responsible? After all at least one person saw what was happening with his own eyes, and others who had previously been close to Sandusky knew of the event in a fairly reasonable amount of time. Or should the individual or individuals who didn't confront Sandusky and remove him from the campus be held responsible?
Was PSU Administration An Enabler Of Abuse By Their Silence?
I think we can all answer yes, after the incident was brought to light, but how about beforehand? Although there may not be enough information to determine the answer just yet. Those who knew Sandusky's actions beforehand evidently gave him access to the facilities and in my opinion are clearly guilty. They are the enablers that basically arranged for this abuse and ungodliness to destroy the lives of not only the children, but the adults involved. Those to whom administrative duties of the university had been entrusted and who also failed or refuse to engage legal authority are certainly guilty for neglecting their duties. There are those who were made aware of what he (Sandusky) was doing or what he had done in the 2002 instance made reports to their superiors, but did not confront Sandusky. It is at this point where the moral and ethical questions arise because we have another category of person to consider. That is where both Mike McQueary and Coach Joe Paterno come in.
Since Sandusky was not a university employee, nor was he involved in the PSU football program, neither Paterno nor McQueary had authority over him being on campus. However, the question is raised, was it their moral responsibility as not only coaches and employees of PSU, but humans to confront Sandusky on the spot and also call the police? If so, then what was the job of their superiors or anyone else to whom they reported the incident?
Far Reaching Ethical & Moral Questions
These questions reach much further that PSU. They reach into every institution, business, church, neighborhood and ultimately every household. The far reaching element of this whole incident is why I believe that the situation is so moving and so impacting.
Noone in their right minds would want or allow children to suffer this sort of alleged abuse. The question is when should individuals get involved, who should get involved and what should they do? We would all like to think that given the experience of Mike McQueary that we would have rushed into the shower and commenced to beat Sandusky down, drag him out into the streets and call the police to have him arrested. However, when we wake up, we don't know Sandusky or what he was capable of in that moment or at the time he would have been confronted. If the allegations are true, and he was able to do what he did to a child in that shower and multiple children according to the grand jury findings, both McQueary's and the minor's lives could have been in danger if McQueary had confronted him in the act.
We all like to think, that being a reputable coach of some 40 plus years at the university, that upon hearing the report we would have called the police and marched to the Sandusky home and pulled him out, but as I stated, we really don;t know what would or could have happened even there as a result.
But allow me to bring this one or two steps closer to home...In many churches, members are aware or suspect certain individual's actions. Some of those actions are highly suspect...Example: the leader that always hangs around either the young ladies of the church or the young men and are often caught in either compromising or highly questionable situations with them...Then there are some in many individuals families, who have been caught sexually abusing either a family member or a neighbor and it has been kept on the down low and kept quiet. No reports made to the police for one reason or another.
What is the obligation of the members and the church members in these cases? What is the obligation of family members in these cases? Do the church members have the same or similar moral and ethical obligations that the Trustees of PSU say the Joe Paterno had at the time that these allegations were brought or delivered to him? DO family members have the same obligation to report other family members who have been suspected of some sort of abuse, but haven't been caught in the act?
While all of those things are open for debate and discussion, one thing is certain, those who know these situations exist and do nothing are enabling the situations to continue and are doing greater damage and destroying lives. Those who know these situations have happened, have access to the individuals but refuse to address the issues that arise because of this sort of victimization could be heartless and devoid of spiritual, social, ethical and moral sensibilities.
We Must Pray
The students and faculty of Penn State university turned to God in Prayer during this troubling time. I was overwhelmed to see the University of Nebraska, its players and staff, shoulder this burden with their new Big 10 Conference associate and competitor. Those images of people gathering and rising in prayer to help lift the burdens of others will never be forgotten in my mind and will always have a special place in my heart. This is one game that I will remember forever. For me that was a truly historic event and one that gave me hope for a better future in dealing with the pain and abuse that has existed for so long, but that people are too busy to stop and address. I also await for the church to respond to these situations in a like manner...It's sad when secular institutions lead the charge in returning to God because of events like this, while the church, while minimizing the spiritual impact, focuses on how many members and how much money is lost as a result.
One thing that we must do and one thing that I know that works...God answers prayer...and HE will!