This is the first of a three part series in which I will briefly examine the fallout from covering child sexual abuse in both the secular and religious world.
Recently, in the news, we have witnessed organizations and individuals held liable for the abuse and mistreatment of individuals. Let's look at the first of a few examples:
Penn State University
"We're going to hold off on making a crime log entry. At this point in time I can justify that decision because of the lack of clear evidence of a crime." email from Penn State Police Chief Thomas Harmon to Penn State President Gary Schultz regarding a mother's report to campus officials that Jerry Sandusky had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with her 11 year old son.
At Penn State University, we are witnessing a whole collegiate system being held accountable for covering up, shuffling off and otherwise accommodating ONE convicted and confused child molester and rapist Jerry Sandusky. I'm quite sure that none of the individuals who were aware of Sandusky's actions would have ever thought that they would be held accountable for what he was doing. They didn't understand that their silence was similar to them taking part in the rape and abuse of children as well.
The trade off was business as usual and "normalcy". In effort to remain "normal" and continue to do things such as make money as usual, who would have ever felt the need to "rock the boat" when so much personal fallout, anger and even broken relationships were at stake? Well, it seems that the chickens unfortunately came home to roost:
"I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno's statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse". ~ Penn State President Rodney Erickson, statement July 22, 2012
Not only has the integrity of the college itself been shaken to the core, the "legacy" of the most winning coach in Division 1 College football history, Joe Paterno, has all but been erased from the memorials and memory of Penn State (with the exception of the campus library). In addition to his professional legacy, his moral resolve as a person has also been called into question. For many of the Penn State faithful, the very thought of Coach Paterno and his association with the program and college, delivers vast emotion and according to some is now seen as curse or an anathema as it pertains to his former association with the University and football program.
Not daunted by the considerations of many to be a football and sports legend, even the NCAA has acted to remove Coach Paterno's name from history, issuing strong sanctions, vacating over 111 regular season and Bowl Game wins since 1998. This drops Coach Paterno from the most winning coach, 409 games, to 12th on the list, 298 games.
A $60 million penalty paid as $12 million a year for five years, to be paid into an endowment to counter child sexual abuse
A four-year football postseason ban
A reduction in scholarships: 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period.
A five-year NCAA probation
Demand that the University work with an athletic-integrity monitor of NCAA's choosing.
A Potential loss of players as any current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school without restrictions
Additional Fallout From One Man & Those Who Looked The Other Way
While the failure of these men to act is in no way indicative of the Penn State spirit or culture, it yet tarnishes the perception of what the leaders of this institution stand for. It causes one to question, not only policy, which was at best flawed, but also motivations and conditions of the heart or many otherwise, by all reports, good and kind people. Well all of that is up for debate now.
"And so, for the sins of Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, the NCAA dropped the hammer on Bill O'Brien, Matt McGloin, Silas Redd and 20 players who won't be able to receive scholarships from Penn State over the next four years (the NCAA stripped the school of 10 scholarships in each of the next four seasons). It assured that the Nittany Lions won't be a contender in the Big Ten for half of a decade -- if not longer -- and that their idol-worshipping fans will no longer cheer for a winner." ~ Stewart Mandel Sports Illustrated Online 7/23/2012
Currently there are threats of additional civil suits both against the University and certain persons who were in positions of power who may have known what was going on, but failed to act against the atrocities. The victims, rightfully so, are considering what steps that they should take to move forward with their lives and piece together their pain and resultant confusion as well. Think about it. People who could have protected children but refused to act in their favor because the ease of life, and the associations with friends were more important than protecting the innocent. Victims, many of them now grown, having to deal with psychological results of primarily being abandoned or caught in a social, political, cultural malaise of destruction.
One thing is for sure, we haven't heard the end of how far this will go and how much the actions of one molester, Jerry Sandusky, and those who covered him by refusing to take action, will ultimately cost this University, the students and athletes. In addition no one knows the end of the loss in human capital, psychological affects and other fallout from any of these events. Image, assets will be lost and liability will extend across the board. All this and more is to come. What will we learn?
We continue to pray for the victims and all the families who have been effected by the sins of both omission and commission both at this university and other places. Stay Tuned For Parts 2 ~ The "Shuffling" Bishop and pt. 3 ~ The COGIC Shuffle. You don't want to miss this I'm sure.