Jerry Sandusky (born Gerald Arthur Sandusky) has served the majority of his professional coaching career as the assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University. Recently, he was forced into the media spotlight as allegations of inappropriate behavior began surfacing from several men who claimed the coach had abused them as children.
Penn State University is also being investigated regarding a story that emerged shortly after the first allegation of abuse was made toward coach Sandusky. According to the Huffington Post Sports, “Mike McQueary testified that after entering the locker room to put away some recruiting tapes, he went to the shower to investigate a noise and saw Sandusky with a boy about 10 years old.” At the time of the incident he was a grad student.
During the trial, Mike McQueary testified he reported the incident to the head coach, Joe Paterno, and Paterno is said to have reported the incident to both the university’s athletic director and vice president. However, nothing happened, partly because Jerry Sandusky was a well-liked, highly respected, and upstanding citizen in the community.
When people see or hear about inappropriate behavior between a child and a man-like Sandusky, they tend to turn the other cheek, ignorance is bliss. It is easy to downplay the evidence and reassure themselves that their model citizen could not really be hurting the same children his charity is helping.
Initially, there were 52 misdemeanor and felony charges against Jerry Sandusky, yet according to ABC Action News, “Judge John Cleland announced that three of the counts were dropped, and earlier this week a fourth charge was withdrawn by prosecutors, bringing the total number of charges to 48." The trial, which took place over a two-week period, included testimony from eight male victims who graphically described how Jerry Sandusky abused them as young boys over a 15-year period. Jurors found Jerry Sandusky guilty on 45 (out of 48) counts of abuse.
What happened at Penn State University happens all across our nation every day. Parents are humbled, and honored when someone like coach Sandusky offers to help mentor their child. A child who is a high risk of traveling down the wrong path in life without someone to guide them in the right direction.
People close to Sandusky will not be able to accept that he molested the most vulnerable children in his community. They will continue to support him despite the overwhelming evidence presented at trial, and his supporters will continue to work hard to discredit the victims who have bravely come forward to break the silence. Some have already inferred the victims concocted their stories strictly for monetary opportunities.
Conversely, anyone who has been a victim of abuse knows it is difficult to talk about what happened, especially for boys. Boys are raised to be tough and not show their emotions. They often experience feeling a sense of extreme shame after being abused by a man. No one wants to tell complete strangers about the horrible sexual acts endured as a child.
The reality is abuse victims works hard to forget what transpired, to shove it away, to discount the memories, both physical and emotional. They try desperately to avoid the triggers that will unleash a flashback or memory. Triggers are everywhere, just waiting to pop out of nowhere when least expected. The other reality is abusers work even harder to ensure their victim feels personally responsible for what happened to them and that somehow they deserved the abuse.
However, nothing is farther from the truth. When sexual abuse occurs on a minor child, the adult is completely responsible for what happened. Even if a child were to instigate an intimate act with an adult, it is the adult who knows what is right or wrong and is capable of saying no. Children who are sexually abused will be forever changed by what happened.
In addition, any adult who sees, hears, or knows that a child is being abused and does nothing is an abuser by association. In action is even more unforgivable than committing the actual acts of abuse. Anyone who knows a child is being hurt and ignores the signs or ignores what is happening is truly a coward.
Jerry Sandusky is 68 years old, and he will presumably spend the rest of his life in prison. He will probably need to be isolated from other prisoners for his safety. In prison, child molesters are at the bottom of the hierarchy. Amazing isn't it how one man can change the lives of so many people.
Perhaps when people see or hear a child is being sexually abused they will make the choice to get involved and contact the authorities. Abusers must be stopped no matter how high up the food chain he or she rests. If you know a child who is a victim of abuse, please do not turn away, instead help stop the cycle of silence and abuse.