“Justice, only justice, shall you pursue.”
As the Jerry Sandusky trial gets underway, I’ve been asked to speak for Penn Staters who have been challenged over these past months to defend our University.
A former assistant coach has been accused of molesting young boys that he met through his Second Mile charity. He may have used his access to Penn State athletic facilities to take advantage of some of those boys.
Penn State is not on trial; Jerry Sandusky is. If the accusations are true, there are very few of the nearly 500,000 living Penn State alumni or the 90,000 current students, faculty and staff who will have any sympathy for Mr. Sandusky. Our sympathy will be entirely with those he abused when they trusted him and looked to him for help and guidance.
As it turns out, he will be judged by Centre County residents, many of whom have direct and longstanding ties to the University. That is as it should be. They represent us all and they will do their best to see that justice is served.
In the meantime, thorough investigations and perhaps additional trials will determine if any Penn State officials participated in a coverup or actually facilitated ongoing crimes. Those investigations, we hope, will also examine the actions or inactions of Second Mile administrators and of local and state law enforcement officers.
The guilty will be punished. But what about the innocent and falsely maligned?
Joe Paterno was never accused of a crime. The Grand Jury, in fact, commended him for his testimony and cooperation. When AD Tim Curley and Senior VP Gary Schultz we’re indicted, Joe said about the Sandusky allegations, “If this is true, we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things . . . I can’t help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred.”
Coach Paterno resigned November 9th. This is the full text of his resignation letter:
I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.
I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.
That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.
This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.
My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.
That night, as he and Sue prepared to go to bed after a long emotional day, he was fired by telephone. Less than three months later Joe Paterno died.
“Justice, only justice, shall you pursue.” Deuteronomy 16:20