Joe Paterno, not getting it.

"The kids that were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them."—Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, on the child sex abuse scandal in which he is looking more and more like a knowing enabler for a child rapist. His former colleague Jerry Sandusky is charged with 40 sex crimes against boys, from 1994 to 2005. Paterno has not been charged with any crime. But he's out. (via Joel Johnson)


  1. I rail against predators.  I real against zero-policy laws.  But the hardest to deal with are the blind-eyed and enablers.  After this and the belt-beating, child abuse issue I could really use a double unicorn, straight up.

  2. since they put out the call for other victims the number has doubled:

  3. Is he actually implying that dozens of children seduced his colleague? That’s… pretty effed up.

  4. Your link for the line “more and more like a knowing enabler” does not link to anything related to the comment you make.  Do you have more details or are you just trying to make a name for youself.

    1. Seriously?  did you even *read* the linked article??  It includes an incident where a grad student witnessed Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy in the Penn State showers and reporting that to Paterno.  Paterno did not contact the police and in fact only denied Sandusky further use of the Penn State facilities.  That’s not a problem in your book?  If not, I sincerely hope that nobody trusts you with children because you’ve got a serious problem with perception.  The only proper course of action when a child is raped is to call the police and inform the child’s parents.  Not to hand down an administrative ruling and a slap on the wrist.

      1. Some folks seem to think you’re not really an “enabler” if you don’t physically hold the kid down for the rapist.

      2. Actually stopping the rape in the moment would also have been a nice touch. Killing the rapist in the moment is optional.

      3. Paterno did escalate it to the police.  That is why Curley and Shultz are out.  THEY ARE/WERE THE POLICE.  Did you read the article and understand everything it encompassed   

    2. What part of the headline “Why would Paterno, Penn State shield alleged child molester?” doesn’t pertain to the comment? I’m confused.

    1. Are you freaking kidding me? That site doesn’t even pretend to be an unbiased source of information. The page on Paterno is a big fat love letter to the guy who helped the college win a bunch of football games, covering such important topics as how the state legislature had introduced a resolution to declare September 3 “Joe Paterno Day.”

  5. I’m feeling deja vu.

    A few weeks back there was a cop show in which a beloved coach was discovered to be preying on kids in his outreach program.

    Was there another case like this recently that might have resulted in that episode’s plot?

  6. You mean the grad student who 1) did not stop the rape 2) did not immediately call the police 3) called his (the grad student’s) father 4) then contacted Paterno the next(?) day?  

    And then Paterno contacted his superior and the person who oversaw the University Police Dept ?  Which is what he was required to do?

      1. Actually Paterno didn’t do the bare minimum, legally speaking. From the article:

        Pennsylvania state law requires Curley, Schultz and Paterno to have reported the charges to the police. They didn’t.

        1. You’re absolutely right. I was stuck thinking about PSU’s regulations, when obviously state law wasn’t followed.

        2. Schultz was in charge of the Police Dept, so he’s effectively the ‘Commissioner’.  And the Grand Jury indicated that Paterno did do what was required of him which is why he was not indicted. 

    1. And then Paterno contacted his superior and the person who oversaw the University Police Dept ?  Which is what he was required to do?

      No, he was required to tell the actual police. You know, the ones who have the power to arrest people, not the ones charged with driving the shuttle van between blue lights so that drunk students can get home safely.

      1. At large universities like Penn State or Ohio state where I went, the police department is a REAL police department and they have to abide by jurisdiction. If this happened at the university, the university police ARE THE ACTUAL POLICE IN CHARGE. For large investigations like this, they cooperate with larger departments, but Joe told exactly the right people.

        1. But you’re arguing the law and the criticism has to do with morality and responsibility. JoePa apparently complied with the law, but for God’s sake, how could he have stopped there? I mean, your friend and heir-apparent is accused of raping youths. You don’t have a sit-down with him and ask what’s up? You don’t say something like “I don’t know what’s going on, but these are very serious things that have to be addressed.” I’m not even talking about accusing the guy. I’m talking about *ANY* step further than reporting a conversation you had with someone else to campus security.

          I think JoePa didn’t do that because he was afraid of what he would hear if he did that. I think the potential consequences were worse to him than more children being molested, and so he didn’t do it. He may not have thought of it in those stark terms, but how else do you get where things are today?

  7. Although I attended a rival university, I want to stick up for “JoePa”.  In the midst of the largely corrupt world of big money college sports, he has been a really decent guy as a head coach for almost 50 years.  As I understand the events, Joe was told in general terms of the 2002 shower incident by someone else.  IANAL, but I think that is considered “hearsay” in legal terms.  It would have been very different had Joe witnessed inappropriate / illegal acts himself.  (Which as of now, I don’t think anyone is saying he did.)  After such a long and distinguished career as a coach (and more generally a leader and mentor) it is a shame that this scandal is what a lot of casual fans will associate with Joe Paterno and Penn State for at least a few years to come. 

    My solution? Joe should announce that he is retiring after this season.  Right now PSU has a great chance of reaching the Rose Bowl, and that way he could go out very near the top.

    – TWR, Redondo Beach, California

    1. Rose Bowl……child rape
      Child rape……Rose Bowl

      Given that authority figures covering up for colleagues raping children has turned out to be a pretty big issue throughout the Western world, forgive me if I don’t give a shit about his distinguished career.

    2. My solution? Joe should announce that he is retiring after this season.  Right now PSU has a great chance of reaching the Rose Bowl…

      This is a perfect example of how fanaticism in sports can warp the cognitive abilities of otherwise reasonable people. (Yes, “fan” is short for “fanatic.”)

      If Paterno did something wrong then he needs to make amends immediately. If he didn’t then he needs to clear his name and move on. Either way the freakin’ Rose Bowl just doesn’t figure into it.

    3. Without any support of people who hushed this up, JoePa is in a no win here.  He is given a hearsay report by a grad student.  Not a colleague.  No first-hand information.  He passed these accusations on to a supervisor as university policy requires he do, and takes what actions he’s permitted in his capacity at the university.  The law does not require the passing on to the police of unsubstantiated accusations.

      The grad student is most liable for not going to the police if he/she had actual first-hand knowledge.  Period.

      It is easy to scream “think of the children,” and rightfully so.  But children’s rights are protected very diligently in these cases, not so much those who are wrongfully accused, and that tactic arises more often than you might think.  If there were strong protections against maliciously maligning one’s character with such accusations which are deliberate fallacies perhaps this wouldn’t be the case.  Those under such suspicion are not treated with respect, and given the gravity of such allegations, seldom with the simple legal “presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”  Yet given the gnat-like attention span of American news reporting, a student’s allegation against a teacher will be headline news for days, but that teacher’s exoneration and the student’s indictment on having made it up over some sort of petty vendetta will get remarkably little coverage.  

      I’m a parent and believe that we brook entirely too much mistreatment of children at many levels, and believe in advocating for greater protections.  But it is utterly inappropriate to cast aspersions on someone’s character without proof of some sort.  

      What should Paterno have done?  Tell the police what?  Hold the grad student’s hand as he/she made the call?  Put yourself in each of their places and consider their positions before going into knee-jerk hang-them-all mode, please.

      1. The law does not require the passing on to the police of unsubstantiated accusations.

        Actually it does in certain circumstances as long as the accusation is credible. As an educator at a public university I believe the coach is considered a “mandatory reporter” under state law.

  8. I haven’t seen any news coverage discussing that the on-campus child care center at Nike’s World Headquarters is named after Joe Paterno.  I think some pressure needs to be placed on the company to take some action and not continue to honor this man through a facility dedicated to the care of children.

  9. I don’t blame Joe Paterno for his views on this. He grew up in a different time when such things were more accepted. 

    (That time was Ancient Greece in the age of Pericles; what I’m trying to say is, Joe Paterno is 2500 years old)

    1. Nah. The Greeks never would have tolerated penetration. JoePa is out of step with ancient Greeks as well.

  10. Yeah, what could be a better way of showing how displeased we are that the most powerful man at Penn State knew that his heir was raping boys under his care, and did nothing to stop it, than by letting him retire happily after winning the Rose Bowl?

    That’ll show ‘im!

  11. Were these kids football players? No! Paterno’s choice was clear.

    Yeah, that’s trolly, but that seems to be the attitude of anyone involved in college football. Winning the Pac-10(12)/Big Ten justifies anything. ANYTHING. They’ll deny that, but ANYTHING.

    Edit: A sad number of your commenters seem to back that up.

  12. Fuck Paterno, how did the dude who actually saw Sandusky anally raping a 10 year old not get the police involved? “Well, I told coach, close enough!”

  13. Please read the Grand Jury Presentment, have a bucket ready.
    Now think of  a friend or coworker who you have know for a long time being accused of something inappropriate with a child, you go to the authorities, Schultz was the Police.  Now nothing comes of it. Do you purse the matter further or think that it was a misunderstanding? Wouldn’t you believe the police, campus or otherwise would have cleared up the matter?  Would you think so poorly of your friend or coworker?  Until you have to accuse someone of this horrendous crime, don’t second guess Joe Paterno’s actions.

  14. I’m not at all sure that he is “not getting it”. ‘Praying for’ the “kids that were victims, or whatever they want to say”(nasty, attention-whoring ingrates…) is the sort of cynical, surprisingly effective, stalling statement used by those a risk of falling from the moral high ground; but who still retain enough supporters to be able to emit such mush without being devoured by the crowd.

    It’s the somewhat more pious-sounding version of the bastard child of “I apologize to anybody who was offended” and “Mistakes were made; but not by me.”

    He probably doesn’t get that he is a ghastly old creep, callously willing to sacrifice a few expendables in the pursuit of Football; but it isn’t at all clear that he is playing a bad PR game…

  15. As a rape crisis counselor in the state of PA, what I understand about the mandated reporting that should have happened here is that it is the responsibility of the person with the most authority to report to the police. While I hate to defend Paterno, as ethically, I believe he should have done more, he had a reasonable expectation for the police commissioner to carry out procedure with the alleged perpetrator. In child abuse cases, hearsay by mandated reporters (which in PA is anyone who works with children, including police) is required by law to be reported. Unless Paterno was a mandated reporter, himself, there is no legal expectation for him to report child abuse. Same goes for the grad student. It’s gross, but it’s true.

  16. To be honest, the biggest villain in this whole coverup is the grad student. He WITNESSED IT, and didn’t:

    A. raise holy hell everywhere
    B. go to the cops
    C. if nothing happened, resign your post, and tell everyone why

    I remember seeing somewhere that he told Paterno that there was “inappropriate behavior” going on. We don’t know what exactly that grad student said, and likely never will, but not going to the cops, and letting this “paragon of the community” continue to destroy the lives of more boys is… morally corrupt, and likely puts you in a place of legal liability.

    This whole case has made me furious in a way that very few abuse cases have. Probably because so many people willingly covered it up for so long – when saying ONE SENTENCE to a police officer would have saved children from rape.

    1. That sounds shitty, but maaaybe he was aware of the controversy over the term “victim” and “survivor” and didn’t know what he was supposed to call them?

    2. JoePa has never been articulate. The knowledge he had and what he (didn’t) do with it is a bigger problem than his inability to speak clearly on a topic that probably freaks him out.

  17. “You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That is the mark of a true professional.” “Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.” Two separate Paterno quotes, but these only apply to college football and not the game of life, right? Riiiiiiiiight. This man has made a career and a name for himself by EXCELLING. Even if he did do the bare minimum here, he seems to believe doing the bare minimum is never enough. This is the tragedy, Joe. 
    No child should ever be subject to abuse of any sort. It is disturbing on a level I cannot describe that so many young boys’ lives were ruined and it was covered up in the name of football and Penn State. Really unbelievable.
    The grad student is Mike McQueary who is employed as an assistant football coach at Penn State. Yes, I think he needs to lose his job too. It states in the Grand Jury Presentment (which I nauseously and tearfully read through last night) that he saw Sandusky with the boy in the shower and they saw him. How the hell can anyone walk away from that? To hell with Sandusky, let him run, let the cops find him, whatever. Get the boy a towel and take him to the hospital, for the love of all that is good.

  18. Also not getting it: Penn State Football fans… 

    How anyone involved let this slide is beyond me. And that includes the grad student who saw an adolescent being raped and chose to leave the scene. If I walked out of that shower room it would only be to come back with a 2 x 4 to beat Sandusky into a coma. And don’t forget, this was the second reported violation regarding the assistant coach. 

    With these kinds of predators, there’s ALWAYS  an ominous, uncomfortable history that everyone chooses to ignore. 

  19. At best, this comment by Paterno is taken out of context by this article’s author. At worst, it is a complete misquote. It’s hard to tell exactly what Joe Paterno is saying amongst all the noise and his inability to enunciate, but what I got from the video clip was that he was trying to avoid saying ‘molested’ while admitting that it had happened and that the children are the ones who we should be most concerned about. 

    A lot of people here are completely missing that point.

  20. Incidental, weird, creepy story….

    Just recently I’ve be trawling the HP WebOS support forums for random hacks and ideas of things to do with my orphaned HPTouchpad. I eventually found myself reading a thread where Penn State Athletic Department employees were complaining about how unreliable using wifi was around the gym. Apparently, a number of posters on the thread were enthusiastic about using their touchpads to share pictures and the spotty wifi was a big issue to them.

    Suddenly, while finishing reading the thread, “Penn State,” “HPTouchpad,” “Picture Sharing,” and “Assistant Coach” amalgamated into a particularly nightmarish vision that made me throw up in my mouth a little.

    I have too much imagination and it’s all the bad kind today. :(

  21.  “The kids that were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them.”  ——- whatever they want to say?????? Yes, they were victims and it’s a little late to be saying prayers for them. Action at the time would have saved many of them from the abuse rather than prayers later on.

  22. I have to wonder how many other folks would be allowed to ‘finish out the season’ like this in other professions.

    “So as your principal I was standing by letting you kids get buttsecksed by the dozens, and I’m going to step down.  But I feel it is best for me to be with you here for the rest of the year, because I’m obviously such a good guardian of you and your precious, nubile little behinds.”

    Also, I can sort of understand the grad student’s plight because even if he *did* want to report things, he’s reporting a major football coach, which as we discussed is about like ratting on God if you’re at PSU.

    But Joe WAS God in that place – he had no fear of reprisal, no cabal of superiors to worry about. …except the cabal he was a part of.  Absolutely sick.  Hopefully schools will start realizing that unlimited power for freaking football is a terrible idea, but I’m not optimistic.

  23. Judging by my Facebook feed, I’m surprised that the primary concern here seems to be how this will effect the rest of the sport’s season, not whether or not there are, you know, possible greater issues that need to be considered.  

    Somewhere, a point has been missed.  A very large point.

  24. “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

    – Joe Paterno

    So those who claim that there’s nothing more he could have done, there you have it from the man himself. Even he thinks he could have done more. He didn’t. He could’ve confronted Sandusky about it, but he didn’t. He could’ve demanded that Sandusky not be permitted to run youth football camps with the endorsement of PSU, but he didn’t. He could’ve denied Sandusky use of PSU football facilities, but he didn’t.

    Should he be prosecuted? No. And neither should he continue to be deified as a patron saint of college football.

  25. I am fully biased, Joe is my Sorority  Uncle (my mom and his wife were members of the same sorority). Both my parents went to PSU and I have been a Nittany Lion fan for my entire life and have looked up to Joe the entire time seeing him as and example of dedication and integrity. (I went to UCSD and we didn’t have a football team because when we did we would get beat by CalTech on a regular basis.)

    I am physically ill over what has happened and I cannot make an excuse for Joe. In all honesty, I think I may have taken the willful ignorance pass it up the chain approach like Joe.  I think if we’re being honest with ourselves many of us would do whatever we could to try to not get involved in a situation.

    Joe should of pursued the issue further even if he only had general details of what happened.  But he passed what he knew on to his superiors, and the head of campus security, and, I assume, trusted them to deal with the situation appropriately, they failed and have been charged legally for their negligence and apparent lying about what they knew.

    In 2000 a PSU janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in the locker rooms, this was reported to two other people including his superior.  His superior told him who he should report it to, if he wanted to, he did not do it.  Three additional people did less than Joe but I don’t hear calls to throw them in jail.

    So my problem with all of this is that Joe was only one of several people who failed the children that were victimized by Sandusky, yet most of the vitriol seems to be aimed at Joe because he is the most prominent figure.  While Joe is deserving of some of this anger,  I cannot dismiss Joe’s 60 years of dedication and integrity to the students of PSU and college football as a mitigating factor. He has stated very recently that he wanted to keep coaching.  He didn’t need to do it, he wanted to do it because he loved it, and he loved working with the “kids”.  I hoped that he would just drop dead at the end of the last game of the season one year–dying doing what he loved.  

    His retirement at the conclusion of this season seems to me to be a very harsh, but not inappropriate consequence.  The thing he loves most is being taken away from him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he passes-on soon after as older people often do when the things they love disappear in old age.  Dismissing Joe before the end of the season would cause unfair harm to the student athletes who have worked so hard to be a part of the Penn State team and were not a part of this other than being PSU students on the football team.  Why should they get punished?

    It’s nice to know that you can do everything right for 84 years but one lapse of judgement, when others did even less, and America will pick up their pitchforks and torches and call for your head.  I don’t think that’s America at her best.

    1. Don’t know if anyone is still following this thread, but Joe Scalzi nutshelled the situation perfectly (as he often does):

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