I find I'm sympathetic towards former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in November in a knee-jerk reaction by the board of trustees . A few years ago, I think most people would have probably done exactly what he did, when McQueary came to him with allegations about Sandusky.
Paterno went to HIS superiors and reported it. I think in his case that was the proper thing to do. Think about it…
An organization named Perverted Justice was started a few years ago. At that time children being raped was not talked about. I joined the staff not too long after the organization started.
Having been in law enforcement, I had watched child molester after child molester either let go or given six weeks probation and then put right back in the home with the victim. It seemed like nobody knew what to do. There were no laws in place to handle this and judges didn't seem to take it seriously. It was the dirty little secret.
Perverted Justice worked diligently to expose how prevalent child molesting had become while nobody was watching and get the laws passed to protect children. Then they were approached by NBC to do a series of programs called dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator. Finally the problem was getting the attention and people became aware of how prevalent the rape of children had become.
But before that, normal people couldn't wrap their minds around the fact that a man would do such a thing. If someone had made that accusation, nobody would have gone to the police because what if it wasn't true and you ruined the man's reputation? And unfortunately, if you did go to the police they probably wouldn't have done anything. There just wasn't anything they could have charged him with. Normal men had trouble even knowing what to do.
McQueary took it to his superior, Paterno, who in turn took it to his superiors. That's the way things are supposed to work in an organization. You take it up the ladder. The boss is supposed to take the action.
Paterno said he had never heard of "rape and a man. I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it."
He said he called his superiors and said "hey, we got a problem I think. Would you guys look into it? Because I didn't know, you know…I had never had to deal with something like that, and I didn't feel adequate."
I believe that and understand it. If he had gone to the police himself and a scandal had ensued, he would have been fired immediately because he should have gone to his superiors and let them handle it.
Either way, Paterno was screwed. The board of trustees couldn't care less that children were raped. They couldn't care less how Paterno handled it. The only thing they care about is washing their hands of whoever it takes to get as far away from the scandal as possible.
Penn State's board of trustees have tried to do this the old way: Keep it quiet. Divorce yourself from it and turn it into another good old fashioned dirty little secret.