Column: The Focus Should Be On Sandusky

By Brittany Burke

A lot of light has been shed on the Penn State molestation case since the news first broke last week. Joe Paterno was fired for not doing more, for not taking matters into his own hands and ensuring that the boys who were violated by then-assistant coach Jerry Sandusky were given justice and helped.

Much was said about all the parties involved, but mostly Joe Pa. I’ve tried to read about the case as much as I could, and I’ve come to the decision that while I think Paterno should have done more, like he said he should have, I am also inclined to feel sorry for him.

I know being “pro-Paterno” could get me hated, but this isn’t because I’m a Penn State fan. I’m not one of the hundreds of students protesting the firing of Paterno, seemingly forgetting that he does in fact have a hand in this entire scandal.

This also doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge that what had happened was disgusting and morally wrong, but I also remember it wasn’t Paterno in the shower with the boys, it was Sandusky.

I think a lot of people are forgetting who the true criminal is in this case, Sandusky. It was Sandusky who allegedly molested 8-year old boys, who were already in a vulnerable position. It was Sandusky who used his own charity foundation, the Second Mile charity, to seemingly find these boys. Not Paterno.

As Paterno is caught in the media and a public crossfire between those who support him and those calling for his head, Sandusky is getting off easy.

When arrested, Sandusky was given a $500,000 bail and the idea of having to wear an ankle monitor was thrown around, but one district judge put an end to it. Now, not only does Sandusky not have to pay his bail unless he doesn’t appear in court, he also doesn’t have to wear the monitor. Instead district judge Leslie Dutchcot ruled he only steer clear of children.

Now, as of Monday, Sandusky has come forward in an interview with Bob Costas proclaiming his innocence. I know it is the tell-tale saying that “innocent until proven guilty,” but how could we believe a grown man who admitted to taking showers with young boys, but adamantly refuses that it was anything other than horsing around?

My question is, why aren’t we protesting that? People seem to be spending so much time focusing on Paterno that Sandusky slips through the cracks.

Telling him to avoid contact is a minor slap on the wrist for someone who allegedly molested children over the course of 15 years, why aren’t we up in arms about that?

I hope that more people realize that we have to put full blame on Sandusky for doing this. This is a man who still sees nothing wrong with what he has done. So I ask again, why are we spending so much time focusing on Paterno?

“I shouldn’t have showered with those kids … I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,” said Sandusky in the Costas phone interview.

How could we continue to push this man to the back burner and use Paterno as a scapegoat? The answer is that we can’t.

I realize this is something that could have been avoided, had Paterno gone to the police instead of the athletics director. But he did what he thought was necessary to ensure that what had happened was properly taken care of, but what Paterno did or didn’t do isn’t the vital information here.

Should he have checked back with the official he told to make sure he was handling it? Yes. Should he have told more than one authoritative person to make sure this wasn’t just brushed to the side? Yes.

However, it isn’t him we should be focusing on. Paterno is just one small piece in this huge scandal. I agree that Paterno should have been let go, but he had already announced his retirement for the end of the season.

What I don’t agree with is the fact that he was fired over the phone. Despite everything that has come about, I believe he deserves to be shown more respect than that, but again this isn’t about him. It is not Paterno that matters, it is Sandusky.

This scandal is mostly about the alleged eight boys who have been harmed by Sandusky’s negligence, and it is about Sandusky who abused his position of power. Let’s not forget that.