By now, Joe Paterno must be down at the community center, spending his days over hands of euchre and cups of coffee with the other geezers. A month ago he was head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, but no more. His downfall was sudden and spectacular. I thought he got a raw deal and said so last post.
Having got that off my chest, I was prepared to move on. You don't win them all, and when you lose, do it graciously. Don't go beating a pet peeve into the ground, as though you have no life of your own. Besides, it's not as though I can't see the other side of the argument. I can. So I'm turning my attention to less sordid things, so as to get this blog back on its normal lofty plain, when along comes another salvo in Rochester's home-town paper, the Democrat and Chronicle, that drags me into it all over again!
Now, you must recall that JoePa fulfilled his legal obligation, reporting a child abuse allegation to his superiors. No one argues that point. But second-guessers came along to assert that he should have gone beyond what law required.....forget the superiors, he should have gone himself to the cops. Okay. Perhaps. He himself, with the wisdom of hindsight, which all of us have in spades, has said he wished he'd done more. So naturally, I assumed that reporting compliance for those with legal obligation must be close to 100% percent. Doesn't that make sense? Surely, compliance must be well nigh universal in order for pundits to so readily broaden the reporting net to include those with “moral” obligation, as they did with Joe. Was I ever wrong! Says the D&C article:
“….it's a mistake to think that the failure of Penn State authorities to report the abuse is a rarity....Studies over the past two decades nationally have consistently shown that nearly two-thirds of professionals who are required to report all cases of suspected abuse fail to do so....."I think that we fail miserably in mandated reporting," said Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Kristina Karle...”
Two thirds!! Two thirds of those required to report suspected abuse to police don't do it! So how is it that Joe Paterno, who was not required to report to police, yet did report to his bosses....how is it that he gets fired?! I tell you, this is so arbitrary....this so closely resembles a witch hunt, that you just have to cry foul. I suppose a witch hunt is okay if you actually catch witches, but the two thirds who should be fired.....if fired is the agreed-upon penalty....have they all been fired? I don't think so.
Further confounding my best intentions to put this subject behind me is that it started up all over again, with another coach from another college, much closer to home. Syracuse! Only 90 miles east of where I live. I've been to Syracuse many times, usually when I was on my way to somewhere else. There, two stepbrothers have just accused a Syracuse Orangemen Assistant Coach of molestation. To my knowledge, no one's saying [yet] that longtime Head Coach Jim Boeheim knew or should have known about it. But, alas, his initial response was (not surprisingly) to defend his longtime associate, calling the accusations “a bunch of a thousand lies” (one of the boys' own father said so, too) motivated by a grab for money.
That was a mistake. For an ESPN tape has surfaced of a phone call made years ago by the assistant coach's wife to one of the parties saying her husband does indeed “need help” and “has issues.” In the light of some substance to the charge, Boeheim has quickly retracted: "What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."
It may be too late. For one brief moment, Coach Boeheim failed to assume that his long-time associate accused of child abuse was automatically guilty, by mere reason of the allegation. He reacted emotionally. Mike Paul, a New York based “crisis consultant” has predicted he is “toast.” “I believe Boeheim has an attitude problem the same way Joe Paterno had an attitude problem, where they are saying: 'This is my program. I built it. You won't say anything negative about me, my coaches and my game.'”
What is it with these characters, so ready to assign an “attitude problem” to anyone who has built something? It just burns me up when people assume, completely without evidence, that anyone who has ever worked with a molester, guys like Boeheim or Paterno, must somehow be complicit, that they must wink and nod and say “ah, well, that's just Bernie doing his thing. But who cares? I've got a program to run, and no one's going to say anything bad about it!” There's a mentality there that I just can't fathom. I swear, I'm an old dinosaur, getting older all the time, completely out of touch. Still, as the dust begins to settle, less hysterical views can be heard, and here is a blog post examining “Why Joe Paterno should sue for libel and journalists should lose their jobs.” Yeah! (but they won't)
They're horrible people, just like Romulus said, those who would molest children. You want to catch them and put them away, perhaps for life if the offense is serious enough. But it's also the damage they do to those who legitimately work with young people....coaches and teachers and counselors and pediatricians and so forth. All these folks come under suspicion whenever a pervert is nabbed. What's their real motive for choosing their line of work, people wonder. It's as if molestation is the only reason anyone would want to work with the young.
For example, a former coach of youth sports, Bob Cook (who, not to misrepresent him, is critical of JoePa) says: “The most upsetting thing about many child-protection rules is they assume any adult is capable of doing something bad. If you think of yourself as a good person, and the people around you as good people, you can’t help but be taken aback. You can’t help but think a wall has been put between yourself, the children you coach, and the families you deal with. It’s a wall that seems patently ridiculous when, in the case of the Catholics involved in my Virtus meeting, were tight-knit, south side Chicago parishes where families had known each other for generations.”
You know, the depravity of child sexual predators is enough to catapult efforts to catch them into a national crusade. I understand that. But I also think the intense focus stems from it being the one crime that people can get their heads around. And do something about! “We may not be able to stop terrorism,” they say, “or economic ruin, or hunger, or global warming, or natural disasters, but....by God...we can stop perverts molesting our kids!” But, in fact, they can't even do that. Two thirds of those required by law to report allegations don't.
Why don't they? Well, I'd guess it's because one wants to be sure a charge has real substance before turning a colleague, a patient, or friend, over to the police, who are apt to descend upon that one's house with TV cameras and reporters and make that one's life a living hell. Now, if the allegation turns out to be true, few will care, but if it is not true, it's a little hard ever to look that person in the eye again. The media retraction will be a little tiny footnote somewhere, which nobody will see....it won't be a screaming headline, as was the allegation.
That's what that D&C article identified as the reason: the two thirds fail because “they are uncertain of whether abuse occurred, are fearful of making false accusations, or are unsure of their obligation.” In fact, that is why ESPN, who sat on their tape for eight years, despite media readiness to point fingers at anyone else who would hold back, kept their own mouths shut: they did not "report the contents of the tape, because no one else would corroborate his story."
Twenty years into the war against pedophiles, they still keep popping up everywhere. Have they always been around, or does today's culture spawn them? Or both?
Read ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’ 30% free preview
Starting with Prince, a fierce and frolicking defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A riotous romp through their way of life. “We have become a theatrical spectacle in the world, and to angels and to men,” the Bible verse says. That being the case, let’s give them some theater! Let’s skewer the liars who slander the Christ! Let’s pull down the house on the axis lords! Let the seed-pickers unite!