Shared shame

Trail of Jerry Sandusky's guilt strewn with enablers of sexual abuse

The guilt is mostly Jerry Sandusky’s.

The shame is markedly more widespread.

The former Penn State assistant football coach and unalloyed and unrepentant pedophile, found guilty Friday of 45 of 48 child molestation counts for attacks on 10 boys over 15 years, acted alone. But not without the callous and sometimes active disregard of those around him.

In some cases, the world-class indifference to Sandusky’s little victims has to be criminal.

Few beasts have ever had more enablers.

Penn State officials in 2001 were told of at least one incident witnessed in the locker room showers there. They moved quickly and decisively – not to protect Sandusky’s victims, but to sweep the monstrosity under the rug to safeguard the vaunted football program of legendary Coach Joe Paterno. At least three more boys were violated after that.

Even after the horrid revelations led to Paterno’s firing, students nearly rioted to support him. Do they not teach perspective at Penn State?

In truth, they need to teach it elsewhere too. It’s likely that other big-time athletic programs also might have acted to save themselves first and turn a blind eye to the savagery in the showers. This is the imminent danger when sports, or anything else, become more important than the safety of children.

The case is far from over. At least three then-top officials at Penn State are being investigated for what they knew and failed to do – and e-mails among them reportedly indicate a desire to avoid alerting a child protection agency because it was the “humane” thing for Sandusky.

There was also a janitor who caught him in the act 12 years ago; a prosecutor who declined to prosecute Sandusky for molestation in 1998; school officials who took Sandusky’s reputation over Victim 1’s word because the coach had a “heart of gold”; the cries for help from Sandusky’s basement; and those who saw Sandusky showering with children and rolling on the floor with them.

Then there are the parents who failed to see anything suspicious in Sandusky’s interest and time spent with their boys – and who dismissed the boys’ objections and occasional hesitation to be with him.

There is also the little matter of what their failure to act says about big-time sports and other big institutions that throw children under the pedophile’s bus.

And there’s the larger issue of whether adults in any environment are educated and courageous enough to speak up when they suspect possible child abuse.

The alarmists in our midst have something to be alarmed about.

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