From an editorial Tuesday in the Dallas Morning News:
If you retain even a shred of regard for Joe Paterno and what he accomplished at Penn State, you should be glad he didnt live to see this.
Paterno was fired in disgrace in November, apparently caught up in revelations of a longtime aides serial sexual crimes against children. In January, Paterno died at 85 from lung cancer. In June, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse against young boys, most targeted through his charity, which was supposedly devoted to helping troubled youths.
For whats left of Paternos legacy, thats far from the worst of it. His story all along had been that he dutifully and legally forwarded to supervisors a graduate assistants allegation that he saw Sandusky having sex with a boy in the Penn State football showers in February 2001. After that, he let others handle it. This is what Paterno told a grand jury and what he insisted in subsequent interviews.
If only he had known. If only he had done more.
Now, the truth paints a far uglier, if more plausible, picture.
It never made sense that Joe Paterno, the biggest man on campus and his-word-is-law authority figure over an elite program, would meekly hand off such explosive allegations about a former trusted aide. Especially when that former assistant still had an office and full-run privileges in Paternos building.
Not long after the scandal broke, Penn State hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to conduct an internal investigation. Email discovered and leaked to CNN offers the most conclusive evidence yet that Paternos tale was tall indeed.
Top university officials since-fired president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley apparently had agreed to report Sandusky to state child welfare authorities until Paterno interceded, emails show. Curley, after speaking to the legendary coach once his coach wrote to Spanier that a more humane solution would be to handle this quietly and in-house.
Child welfare officials were never alerted. When Sandusky stood trial, testimony revealed four boys were victimized after February 2001. Paterno and the others could have stopped a serial pedophile; instead, they protected a universitys reputation and its treasured football program.
Unsurprisingly, Paternos family is irate that leaked email is casting their patriarch in such awful light. Perhaps buried amid the new evidence is a message from someone, anyone, that might read: But if this is true, its a felony crime. We have to take this to the authorities. Given the events to date, that seems as implausible as Joe Paternos dishonored expressions of regret for Jerry Sanduskys true victims.