Words in standard type are the thoughts of a person attempting to evaluate every side of the story involving Penn State coach Joe Paterno's role in the case involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Paterno didn't break any law. Officially speaking, he did exactly what was required when a graduate assistant told him in 2002 that he had witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing a boy (estimated age: 10) in a shower at the Penn State football complex. Paterno told his boss, athletic director Tim Curley. Paterno followed proper procedure. And doesn't he deserve the benefit of the doubt? For years, Paterno has been a paragon of athletic virtue. He has won a Division I-record 409 games, yet his program has never been cited for a major NCAA violation. Sandusky maintains his innocence. As does Curley, who has been charged with perjury. They'll get their day in court.
Paterno released a statement Sunday night saying the graduate assistant was distraught and did not describe the specific act mentioned in the grand jury presentment. Maybe Paterno didn't grasp the seriousness of the allegation. Maybe he didn't understand.
Still, we need to wait until the facts come out before judging Paterno. Maybe there is some reasonable, rational explanation for his silence. Can I honestly say that I would go to the police if a subordinate reported something like that to me about a longtime friend? Which person would I believe?
Forget it. There is no defense. There is no rational explanation. I hope, if placed in the same situation, I would protect the child. If I didn't, may God have mercy on my soul.
The Penn State alma mater includes this line: "May no act of ours bring shame." Someone wrote those words on a poster Monday and hung them from a statue of Paterno on Penn State's campus. If Sandusky pleads guilty or is convicted of these accusations, that statue of Paterno should be torn down.
Paterno has won 409 games. He has helped usher thousands of young men into adulthood. But if Paterno's inaction allowed a monster to continue preying on children, those victories don't mean a thing.