The scandal involving the alleged sexual abuse of children at the hands of a former Penn State assistant coach is quickly roiling to a boil.
Jerry Sandusky, the one-time heir apparent to Joe Paterno as the Nittany Lions, was indicted Friday on 40 counts related to the sexual abuse of minors. Two top university officials, including current athletic director Tim Curley, have been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected sex abuse related to the Sandusky case. The calls for Joe Paterno “to be dismissed in the clean sweep that must follow” are growing louder by the minute.
Now, a Pennsylvania lawmaker is rightly calling for a probe into the actions — or inaction, as the case may be — undertaken by top university officials.
State Senator Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin County, told the Patriot-News Saturday that Penn State’s board of trustees should be disturbed by the allegations brought to light by the grand jury in the Sandusky case and that an investigation into the university’s response is warranted. As the chairman of the state Senate Education Committee, Piccola’s in a position where his “suggestions” carry a little more weight than some hack with a keyboard and Internet access.
Piccola also questioned the tack taken by PSU president Graham Spanier, who released a statement yesterday expressing unconditional support for Curley and the other school official facing charges, vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz.
“A university president defending an indicted employee? I mean, he shouldn’t make any judgment on guilt or innocence. That’s not his role. He needs to distance himself from that,” said Piccola.
“This is a major blemish on the reputation of Penn State University. This makes recruiting violations look like small potatoes.”
Piccola is 100-percent correct. This is not tattoos in Columbus or hookers in South Beach or shady recruiting services in Eugene. This is a university employee allegedly committing at least one act of sexual abuse of children on school grounds in 2002, in the locker room of the football building no less, and the administration, in essence, sat on its collective hands.
An exhaustive, independent investigation of the Penn State administration that overturns every sordid rock should and must be conducted. Two questions must be answered above all else: one, what did Curley and other university officials know and, two, if they knew of even one incident, why were the authorities not contacted.
There should be no sacred cows, from Spanier, who per the grand jury indictment was made aware of the 2002 incident and signed off on a slap of Sandusky’s wrist, all the way down to the coaching legend, who informed Curley of the same incident but must explain why he didn’t contact law enforcement after it became clear the university would not act on the information in their possession. Anyone who’s culpable, either through inaction or active participation into what amounts to a coverup, must be held accountable.
For the eight alleged victims named in the grand jury indictment — and the countless others who may have become victims in the ensuing years due to PSU’s apparent decision to sweep at least one incident that took place on school grounds under the rug — it’s the least the university can do.