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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Prison for Paterno?

     A reader has asked a question a lot of people are asking. Assuming the child molestation charges against Jerry Sandusky are true, could Joe Paterno go to prison? Given the sex abuse reporting law in Pennsylvania, and the fact no jury would convict an 84-year-old football icon, I think the more relevant question is this: Does Joe Paterno have any moral responsibility for the boys' molestations by his close friend?

     In a November 12 article entitled, "Joe Paterno's Troubling Attitude Toward Sex Charges," published in "The Daily Beast," Nick Summers writes: "To many, Paterno's fall from grace came as a sudden and stunning shock. But in recent years, the football regime over which he presided like a god had begun to show signs of ethical decay." Having analyzed lesser sex-related scandals involving several of Paterno's players, Summers concludes that the legondary coach didn't consider such matters a big deal.

     Former Pittsburgh Steeler and Penn State running back Franco Harris apparently doesn't think his former coach has moral responsibility for the molestations that took place under Paterno's watch. After calling the officials at Penn State "cowards" for firing Paterno, Harris lost his TV spokesman/meet-and-greet celebrity gig at the Pittsburgh area Meadows Race Track and Casino. In the wake of his defense of Paterno, the board of a Pittsburgh charitable scholarship organization voted to remove Harris from its ranks. Sometimes free speech isn't free. And sometimes you end up eating your own words.

     Before the Penn State scandal plays itself out, I think we will know the degree to which coach Paterno is morally responsible for the molestation of Sandusky's alleged victims.  

UPDATE

     Penn State trustees on November 21 announced that former FBI director Louis Freeh will head an independent, private investigation into the child molestation scandal. At a press conference, Freeh said his investigation team has established its own toll-free hotline for tips. The NCAA has also launched an investigation into the matter. With four parallel investigations underway, the Penn State campus will be crawling with investigators for the foreseeable future.

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