Our view: Penn State should remove statue of Paterno
July 13, 2012 3:48PM
Candles and memorabilia are placed by well wishers at the foot of a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium on the Penn State University campus Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:32AM
It’s time to remove Joe Paterno’s statue from a position of honor outside Penn State’s football stadium.
Not because he wasn’t an outstanding football coach. And not because he didn’t do tremendous good for Penn State over four decades.
But because, at key moments, he and other university leaders failed to protect children from a sexual predator named Jerry Sandusky, allowing him wide berth to continue his interrupted reign of sexual terror.
Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach, was convicted in June on 45 counts of sexual abuse, including rape and sodomy, involving 10 boys over a 15-year period, with several assaults occurring on campus.
An independent investigation of the scandal released Thursday reached a damning conclusion about the culpability of Paterno and three other university leaders: “Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” said Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI who oversaw the investigation. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
Of the four, Paterno died in January, the university president was fired, and two other top administrators face criminal charges for failing to report allegations of child abuse against Sandusky in 2002. The report found that in two instances of alleged sexual abuse, in 1998 and 2001, the men concealed critical facts and failed to keep Sandusky away from children.
If Penn State, and other institutions like it, hope to truly send the message to everyone in their community that protecting children comes before fear of bad publicity, institutional pride or adult loyalties, there is simply no room for ambiguity.
And keeping that Paterno statue opens that door.