Travis Shingledecker ’13
See below for MLHS student poll results!
Is our nation becoming desensitized to sexual assault? Within the past few months, there have been several incidences of heinous acts of sexual assault against minors. Yet, despite the repugnant nature of these acts, the matters still seem trivial. This triviality is not primarily derived from a lack of evidence; rather, it seems to be rooted from wanting to maintain iconic reputations in the college sports arena.
Although there are several incidences of sexual assault and sexual harassment reported this year, the allegations made against former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, are the most well-known. Under the leadership of head coach Joe Paterno, Sandusky mentored his team for 31 seasons. Several allegations and investigations were made against Sandusky since his retirement, but the severity of his actions was only brought to the general public this year.
Photo courtesy of http://www.mcall.com/sports/college
Prior to being indicted and arrested, a three year investigation revealed various disgusting secrets about the former coach’s past. For example, Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant coach, testified that on a Friday night in 2002, he found a naked 10-year-old boy being subdued to overt sexual assault in the showers with a naked Sandusky.
One would assume that a college student would know enough to stop the rape and notify the police of the pedophile. This was unfortunately not the case; rather, McQueary opted to call his father for counsel. The following day, he notified Paterno, who decided not to notify the police. In turn, the cycle of unresponsive actions to child rape were continued when Paterno notified the Penn State athletic director, Tim Curley, who thought it impertinent to disclose the information to the university police. (The university police, with Curley’s knowledge, already discovered that Sandusky showered with an 11-year-old boy in 1998. However, he was simply advised not to do it again!)
As opposed to notifying any law enforcement, Curley testified that he alarmed Sandusky of the severity of his actions. He told him that he could no longer bring children to the campus. Essentially, Curley’s soft tone implied that with Sandusky’s actions, there was a time and place-as long as that place was not on the university’s grounds! It is utterly grotesque.
The only explanation for why this cycle of information continued without being reported to the police regards the preservation of the reputations of both the university and the esteemed football program. As a coach and role model, head coach Paterno stresses the importance of ethical values and often preaches that “success without honor is an unseasoned dish.” Evidently, the head coaches preferred to maintain a false reputation rather than protect a child. Where is there honor in a program where a football team’s status is prioritized over the status of sexually exploited children?
Sandusky was indicted on 40 accounts of sex crimes against young boys and was arrested on November 5th. He was charged with seven counts of involuntary sexual intercourse, eight counts of corruption of minors, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and seven counts of indecent assault to simply highlight some of the offenses with a life sentence is pending. On top of all of this, he was arrested again last Wednesday for an additional twelve charges.
In addition to Sandusky’s punishment, Paterno was forced to resign because he did not relay this information to the police. In response enraged students rioted on the grounds. One student, Justin Muir, reported that “It’s not fair. The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.” The hubris of this statement is utterly astounding. While he is embarrassed by the board’s decision, Muir and the student body should be embarrassed by the manner that these sexual harassment charges were handled by faculty members. When referencing Paterno’s resignation as a disservice, is Muir implying that football is more important than the welfare of children? Is it possible that our nation could be so desensitized to sexual assault that football is of greater concern?
Unfortunately, a similar sexual molestation case is being investigated at Syracuse University. In this case, former assistant basketball coach, Bernie Fine, is under investigation for the molestation of three previous ball boys for the team. Fine called the accusations “patently false,” but the incidences continue to be investigated as head coach Jim Boeheim’s future is being questioned. Much like the Penn State case, however, the University tried to veil the incidences as previous investigations were performed by the University instead of going to the district attorney’s office or the police department.
While looking at these cases and public reactions from an observer’s perspective, one must question the current misaligned mindset of Americans. Somehow, the great American staple of football has deluged the basic American staples of honor and welfare, which is simply foul; America’s priorities must be reevaluated and realigned.
Recently a student survey was sent to all the students of Mountain Lakes High School. The questions were dealing with the recent and continuing story about allegations of sexual exploitation at Penn State University. The results are below (click on each chart for full-sized view).