From The Grio — History does not always repeat itself, but it echoes quite loudly.
The latest scandal rocking Pennsylvania State University’s football team, in which disturbing details surfaced that former Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly raped and molested at least eight young boys between the ages of 10 and 15, echoes the dark truth at the heart of evil intent in all cases of child sexual abuse. As things presently stand, Jerry Sandusky has been arraigned and released on bail. University President Graham Spanier and Coach Joe Paterno have been fired, effective immediately.
Paterno may not get his final winning season, but he will certainly receive accolades and rewards for an exemplary career. Yet what remains is that too many others have already lost here. Nameless, faceless and voiceless boys were invited to play a sick, dangerous and twisted game, while good men watched in silence, and did nothing.
When the allegations of sexual misconduct against Georgia minister Bishop Eddie Long hit headlines last year, there were shock waves throughout the African-American community. Most disturbing was the fact that Long had spent years grooming young men from their early teens until the legally safe ages of 16 and 17 (under Georgia law at least) before allegedly initiating sexual activity.
Many ran to Long’s defense, with baseless claims that the young men were fortune hunters: willing to destroy the reputation of a successful and respected community leader for financial gain. However, as more accusers came forward with eerily similar stories, Long quickly delivered a large settlement agreement, which silenced the young men.
Like Bishop Long with his Youth Academy, Sandusky allegedly used his own children’s charity program, The Second Mile, which focused on assisting poor, underprivileged kids, many of whom came from single-parent homes and were struggling in school — to find his prey. Using his money, fame and the lure of access to prized football facilities and games that any young boy could only dream of, Sandusky likely perverted the mission of the charity by making it a breeding ground for his targets.
The motto of the program, originally founded by Sandusky in 1977, is “Providing Children with Help and Hope”; but the gruesome details of the grand jury report released this week reveal something so damning it rivals the actions of notorious Catholic priests engaged in the highest betrayal. As Stuart Scott, anchor of ESPN’s SportsCenter, opined last night, “Short of murder, these allegations are as serious as it gets.”
In public, Jerry Sandusky was the coordinator of Penn State’s successful defense for 23 years, known for making the Nittany Lions famous as “Linebacker U”. He mentored Pro Bowl player LaVar Arrington, and produced 10 All-Americans during his tenure. He was a father-figure to young giants on-the-field and to underprivileged boys off-the-field.
In private, Sandusky is said to have raped boys in his care from as early as 1994 to 2009, the most damning of which occurred in 2002 in the showers of Penn State’s Football facilities, witnessed by a Penn graduate assistant and — though reported to Joe Paterno and other administrators — hardly anything was done.
The grand jury report details Sandusky’s contact with boys ranged from touching, and tickling to oral and anal sex. The stark details are difficult to stomach as an adult, let alone experience from the perspective of a pre-pubescent or adolescent boy.
Over the past few years similar incidents of sexual impropriety in the realm of sports have surfaced, with one common trend: the victims are exclusively young black boys from underprivileged backgrounds.