Sandusky scandal is the sports story that really matters

The Jerry Sandusky case is one that no sports fan can afford to ignore. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Jerry Sandusky case is one that no sports fan can afford to ignore. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

It’s not a typical sports story. It’s uncomfortable. It’s ugly.

Some of the testimony was so repulsive, so evil, that it was difficult for the brain to even process it. This partly explains why the masses often lean toward the candy of the sports world. A college football playoff debate. Cheering or mocking of LeBron James. A baseball pennant race. It’s simple. It’s easy to digest. Real-life drama such as the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation case gets pushed aside, even if it’s potentially one of the more impactful sports stories of our generation.

“I really wish ESPN and other national sports outlets would start covering this more,” Tammy Lerner, co-founder of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse (FACSA) said Thursday. “So many stories like Sandusky are coming out. Pedophiles are drawn to places with access to kids, like sports. We’re seeing stories about abuse involving Olympic coaches, football players, hockey players, basketball players. But people don’t want to believe the worst. If you believe it, you have to do something about it. It’s easier not to.”

The Sandusky case was given to a jury Thursday. The evidence seemed overwhelming. The defense seemed flailing. Sandusky himself declined to take the stand and speak to 12 jurors directly, even after effectively taking the stand and speaking to them indirectly in a disastrous national TV interview with NBC’s Bob Costas last November. But if you’re wondering what happens next, here’s your simplistic sports analogy: Round 12 just ended and we await the judges’ decision. Feel comfortable?

Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator, faces 48 counts of child sex abuse. The prosecution called 22 witnesses, including eight males who alleged abuses ranging from kissing and fondling to forced oral and anal sex. They wept on the stand. They gave testimony in agonizing and horrific detail.

In his closing argument, deputy attorney general Joe McGettigan stood near Sandusky and alluded to the alleged victims, saying Sandusky “took pieces of their souls. … Give him the justice he deserves.”

The defense tried to cast Sandusky as a caring man who was just trying to help disadvantaged kids through his “Second Mile” charity. Defense attorney Joe Amendola played the conspiracy-theory card. He fell just short of suggesting there was a second pedophile on the Grassy Knoll. He suggested every witness was wrong in their interpretation of what they saw or heard. He claimed victims were coerced or coached by police or are being guided by financial motives.

Before the defense rested, Amendola even presented something called, “Histrionic Personality Disorder” to explain some of his client’s strange behavior. The paralegal in his office who dug that one up should get a nice bonus.

If a scandal like this can happen at a university and football program such as Penn State, it can happen anywhere. There have been allegations of a years-long coverup. Joe Paterno, the late coach, was forced out. President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley were fired. Curley and the recently retired vice president, Gary Schultz, face charges of perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse.

And yet, we obsess over LeBron James.

Lerner is a victim of a child molestation. She and at least six others in her family were molested by an uncle. She grew up in central Pennsylvania, has a son at Penn State and her husband is an alum. The family even once had a dog named “JoePa.”

She said she has no doubt of Sandusky’s guilt. But she is concerned that jurors may be swayed by defense arguments.

“They had one [former Penn State] assistant coach [Dick Anderson] who said it wasn’t unusual for coaches to shower with boys,” she said. “But pedophiles groom their victims and manipulate their victims.”

We’ve seen too many strange things happen when a jury goes into deliberations, particularly when a celebrity is the defendant. It’s also troublesome that eight of the 12 jury members have direct or indirect ties to Penn State. One alternate juror who replaced an ill juror Wednesday is an alum and Sandusky spoke at her graduation.

Many in the Penn State community are understandably upset by suggestions that they would protect “one of their own.” But if we believe even a fraction of the allegations against Sandusky are true, it also seems clear he was protected and enabled. It takes only one sympathetic protector to hang a jury.

“I would hope the jurors can put their personal feelings about Penn State aside and just look at the evidence,” Lerner said.

It shouldn’t be too much to ask. Look at the evidence. Don’t look away. These are the stories that really matter.

By Jeff Schultz

106 comments Add your comment

TAB

June 21st, 2012
3:45 pm

if you’re not guilty, get on the stand and do so! Since you didnt, you sealed your own grave. i hope once he goes to jail, he get the jeffrey Dahlmer treatment and ends up with a broom stick up where the sun dont shine!

He is a sick sick man that preyed on young boys that needed help, instead he took advantage of them. and to set up the foundation, was that his personal picking fields?!? I hope he lives a long miserable life in jail!

DawginLex

June 21st, 2012
3:54 pm

If they let this guy go free, one of the victims or their family will kill the guy. Sandusky will need to go into witness protection and get major plastic surgery.

What kind of a life could he lead? He deserves to go to jail and spend many nights in the shower getting pounded.

Paul

June 21st, 2012
3:56 pm

In the face of overwhelming testimony and evidence, one can only hope the jury does what is right. The line between a “reasonable” doubt and a more Descartian uncertainty is too often blurred in these high profile cases, though.

You are absolutely right though, Schultz, this story should be front and center on the Disney owned ESPN. Instead, this story gets its play in the CNNs, New York Times, and USATodays of our media world. Is it because, when confronted with uncomfortable moral taboos and disgusting conduct, the sports media – like the sports world – just turns its head? Is it all “for the love of the game” that sports are shielded from the worst of human offenses?

Spanky

June 21st, 2012
3:57 pm

Any time you are a leader, leading kids, whether they are 18 or 5, and you abuse that trust for your sadistic perversions,…well, you deserve a massive throat-punching!!

Dave

June 21st, 2012
4:10 pm

Jury, get this right and offer him the same mercy he offered his victims …

markie mark

June 21st, 2012
4:11 pm

permission to volunteer Mr Sandusky as a total organ donor?

tom

June 21st, 2012
4:17 pm

The asst coach who said it was normal for coaches to shower with players is absurd. Playing football in high school our coaches had a separate locker room and showers. How stupid is this guy or is he another child molester in disguise?

PMC

June 21st, 2012
4:18 pm

ESPN ran this story for about 3 months. CNNSI has been featuring this story since it’s inception.

We all read and know the facts as reported to the court anyway, there won’t be more to report until the verdict is written. I don’t think lack of coverage is an issue.

I don’t see how the actions of this man in this trial should have anything to do with Penn State. It’s pretty clear he’s a cereal pedophile and he’s abused LOTS of people. The trial for that massive cover up is coming and it’s going to be UGLY for Penn State.

molestation semi-survivor

June 21st, 2012
4:19 pm

good thing i’m not on the jury, and yes, i would have lied to conceal my molestation just to send him to hell!!!!!

PMC

June 21st, 2012
4:20 pm

It’s about time though that College Football fans realized that virtually if not every institution is corrupt in one way or another.

Rule breaking from recruiting violations to academic cheating to illicit activities are happening EVERYWHERE.

PMC

June 21st, 2012
4:22 pm

The revelations of this case (and of that TV interview) are the definition of beyond a reasonable doubt.

C. Tampa Ironworse

June 21st, 2012
4:22 pm

So until ALL crime, war, abuse, strife et al is gone from the earth…nothing else matters? Don’t get me wrong, this guy NEEDS to fry. But this argument is like the speeder than tells the trooper “don’t you have a bank robber or somebody to catch…why are you ticketing me?”. Just because there are horrible things going on in the world, doesn’t mean we can also try to enjoy what little is out there to enjoy. I can watch LeBron and HATE Sandusky. I’m smart enough to do both. I guess Jeff isn’t. So I guess he won’t write about ANYTHING else until all injustice on the face of the Earth is gone. Look forward to the new blogs, JS.

C. Tampa Ironworse

June 21st, 2012
4:28 pm

JS…the “Christiane Amanpour” of the AJC! I can’t wait for Jeff to report from Tel Aviv or Haiti. Hopefully craft services in those places will have what you eat in the press box down at the TED. Now that you’re doing only hard news, that is.

DJ Sniper

June 21st, 2012
4:28 pm

FYI: Sandusky actually did offer to take the stand, but he was overruled by his attorneys. He’s still a disgusting human being though.

Choke, please STFU.

Bill Payer

June 21st, 2012
4:39 pm

Sorry, have to disagree. This is a crime story, that involves sports figures. It belongs on the front page. When people turn to the sports page, they want to read about sports. Life is very real for most people. When they want news, they can get it. Sports is the toy box for adults, we follow sports to get away from all this other stuff. That said, they can’t convict this guy fast enough, nor punish him anywhere near enough for his actions, at least under current US laws.

As far as who knew what and when, everyone seems to think pedophiles some how stand out in a crowd. A friend of mine found out that a deacon at his church was arrested for child porn, he was completely freaked. Said this guy was “beloved” in the community, always taught the kids in Sunday school, and had in fact babysat his kids! You just never know. Those people look like everybody else. If it can be proved that people knew and covered it up, they should go to jail too.

Carew Rowell

June 21st, 2012
4:44 pm

He didn’t take the stand because one of his adopted son’s called the prosecution after the prosecution had ended it side of the story and he agreed to testify against Sandusky. I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding was if Sandusky testified his son could be called as a rebuttal witness. When the defense found this out, they decided Sandusky was not going to testify. According to MSNBC…

Cobb Dawg

June 21st, 2012
4:46 pm

Great work, Schultzie.

Brent

June 21st, 2012
4:52 pm

Hey Bill, there is a link on the front page

Beast from the East

June 21st, 2012
4:57 pm

I’ve read about this daily on ESPN and USA Today. Your coverage in the AJC has been lousy, but then again the only thing the AJC covers well is celebrity news and UGA.
I hope the jury does the right thing and finds him guilty. I not only have no reasonable doubt…I have no doubt at all he did it.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

June 21st, 2012
5:00 pm

Unless pedophilia is a sport, I don’t think this is a sports story at all. It doesn’t belong in the sports section, it belongs on page one with the rest of the sickening news of the day. Leave the sports pages to the games.

SCDee

June 21st, 2012
5:02 pm

This entire story is an outrage. Sandusky and ALL of his enablers should rot in hell.

Mitchell

June 21st, 2012
5:02 pm

Enter your comments here

JeanE

June 21st, 2012
5:04 pm

I agree100% Jeff. It is so sick and vile but must be heard. I recall one person saying it was known not to shower with Jerry or “drop the soap”. That is so sick! People knew he was a pedophile and nothing was done for years while more and more kids suffered. I hope he goes away for the rest of his disgusting life. Also, his wife is in total denial but I think she knew.

Mitchell

June 21st, 2012
5:04 pm

I’m a peaceful person by nature but somebody needs to take a baseball bat to that sorry excuse of a human being.

JeanE

June 21st, 2012
5:04 pm

I agree100% Jeff. It is so sick and vile but must be heard. I recall one person saying it was known not to shower with Jerry or “drop the soap”. That is so sick! People knew he was a pedophile and nothing was done for years while more and more kids suffered. I hope he goes away for the rest of his disgusting life. Also, his wife is in total denial but I think she knew.

yo mama

June 21st, 2012
5:09 pm

Jeff, take this tidbit and blow it open. the digusting behavior of covering up a situation, like the sandusky case will allow for other coverup’s to be revealed. last year, while in new england i saw on local news a story about the red sox club house mgr having another youing black boy admit to being molested. the red sox kept paying off the families and there were many. now, how they kept him on the payroll while knowing it is a crime that got covered up. go get them jeff, this needs to be blasted wide open, to show once again, when it comes to molesters, churches, diosese’s, schools, companies, agencies would rather cover it up. i almost puked after what i heard and how it was so hush hush up the northeast.

yo mama

June 21st, 2012
5:11 pm

Coolcat Bosco

June 21st, 2012
5:15 pm

He’s guilty. It’s not top line front page news story. We’re tired of it being shoved down our throats. He abused people, when he’s convicted, make it front page. Then let it go. Enough already. He’s scum, everyone knows he’s scum, people looked the other way and should be severely reprimanded, if not fired and fined themselves. Others should take note and not ignore your staff. But for God’s sake, report on something else for a few minutes.

Blog comments are retarded

June 21st, 2012
5:15 pm

I have to disagree with Mr. Schultz and echo some of the other posters. Sports fans are capable of keeping up with news and current events beyond the sports page. It may seem, to those who’s paycheck comes from sports, that unless its on sportscenter or on the sports page, it doesn’t get seen or read. I’m tired of hearing about Sandusky in the sports pages because I read the news every day and see the front page articles and top of the news items where this story gets plenty of attention, which it deserves. When I get to the sports page, I want to know how Schultzie thinks JJ is going to pitch on Friday and if a team will trade for him. I want to know his opinion on those things that don’t ‘matter’.

I agree with Schultz’s sentiment and support strong media coverage of this story, but I kind of feel that he’s suggesting that if we read the sports page, we have precluded ourselves from reading the rest of the paper.

King of Carrot Flowers

June 21st, 2012
5:21 pm

The guy’s comment about a “cereal pedophile” made me laugh. What was it, Cheerios? There haven’t been many laughs in this story, so thanks for that.

Paddy

June 21st, 2012
5:23 pm

Jeff…good insight. This is both a crime story and a sports story. When we see felonies committed by bankers and money managers it is both a crime story and a financial story covered by both departments of the media. It can’t be seperated.

Vinny…….you have a small mind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

richard whiskey

June 21st, 2012
5:31 pm

can’t believe this old fart had’nt done us all a favor and went off somewhere and shot himself

Howard

June 21st, 2012
5:35 pm

This guy is guilty and shoudl be judged so…but before everyone puts this one in the “gotcha” block…remember these folks? OJ, Robert Blake,John Edwards and the worst of all…Casey Anthony. With the intelligence level of the people lawyers stick in the jury box…don’t be surprised by anything that comes out of their mouths concerning Sandusky. I hope they do the right thing and send him away forever but until the verdict comes?? Don’t count your chickens…

dbc

June 21st, 2012
5:43 pm

Now that the story of Matt Sandusky, Jerry’s adopted son, has broken, that should just about seal Jerry Sandusky’s fate. For those that don’t know, Matt Sandusky has now come forward and said he was also molested by his adopted father. Why he waited until now to reveal this info is anybodies guess.

Larry Nalls

June 21st, 2012
5:52 pm

Jeff, I agree with those that have said this is not a sports story and that we are in fact capable of reading both news and sports stories. Sports stories are our escape. Crime stories are our reality. We are aware that both are there. Well written article, though.

schmo

June 21st, 2012
6:13 pm

If Sandusky is smart, he’ll blow his brains out before he ever sets foot in prison. The child molesters are the ones who have it the worst in prison, and he will certainly be no exception. He’d better hope he doesn’t drop the soap.

Sonny Clusters

June 21st, 2012
6:28 pm

We don’t usually blog about anything but baseball where we was always known as an expert but this Sandusky is a real sicko and he deserves some of our attention. Having said that, we think we’d rather give our attention to the front page for Sandusky news and we’ll save the sports pages for tweaks and strains and obliques, and thumbs, and quads, and groins, and bruised legs, and bad ankles, and bad toes, and headaches, and flu-like symptoms, and errors at third base.

NCAA is a joke!

June 21st, 2012
6:43 pm

Well shut my mouth! The entire athletic department aided and covered up a pedophile who was raping boys on campus? He coached for the football team for how long? Meh, no penalties here! Move along! The important business is whether guys are getting a few free shirts, or maybe some pocket money to take a girl out for pizza. FOR SHAME! Probation! Investigations! Rescind titles!

Seriously. Penn State football should be under the sword of Damocles right now, awaiting the death penalty they so RICHLY deserve.
And Sandusky should be getting the death penalty. A sick, sick bastard.

curdog

June 21st, 2012
7:03 pm

An important story? Yes,but isit sports?
I want to read about games, not crime in the sports section.
Nail rules violators to the wall, but put it in the news.
I look in the sports section for relief, not engagement in criminal intent. Yes, our “games” are big business and reflect the larger world.

Last time I went to a Braves game, (no, I don’t get out much) I was turned off by who few folks watched the BALL GAMEand how many just wanted to buy braneded mechandise, eat overpriced food and get themselves on the jumbotron.

Two out, two on, full count, down a run didn’t matter. We want a treat; we

Ed

June 21st, 2012
7:07 pm

I get the feeling that this sick freak might actually enjoy certain aspects of prison life. He’ll be on the hunt for an 18 or 19 year old “girlfriend” within a week of his arrival.

curdog

June 21st, 2012
7:14 pm

Ooops!
We want a treat. We’re going to take the whole fam damnily across your view.
Sports have expanded their economic impact since the days of Ed Thilenius and “Imagine your radio dial as the field as we look at it.”

Why can’t we see it as just game instead of a self important marketing Colossus? If folks still buy $40 tickets and licensed junk made in China are we really in economic distress?

JASon

June 21st, 2012
7:34 pm

“And yet, we obsess over LeBron James.”

This article is an unprecedented piece of garbage. The media is covering the he!! out of this story. Yahoo Sports reports on it every single day in explicit detail. You have made an assumption that society is not paying attention. Further, it is very irresponsible of you to take the leap that just because it is happening at a major university that it is happening everywhere.

Spud Webb

June 21st, 2012
7:35 pm

Well Done Jeff.
This piece of crap turns my stomach, along with his smug lawyers. All scumbags and I hope justice is served. I’m scared he’ll get off with nothing, but holding hope they throw the book at him.
And now his step son has come out and said he was molested??? WTF where have you been dude? Gutless, letting these other victims be exposed and humiliated…and NOW you come out…

Dawg Haus

June 21st, 2012
7:44 pm

This just gets sadder by the day. We should all pray for the victims and their families. I don’t even want to think about how I’d feel if someone close to me had their life ruined by a sick pervert like this.

dawg4u

June 21st, 2012
8:05 pm

I agree with Dawgin Lex that if Sandusky is acquitted then he will be killed either in prison or before he even gets there. He is a scumbag and the fact that his stupid lawyer agreed to an interview with Bob Costas in November is mind boggling. When asked by Costas if he was attracted to young boys and then having to think and repeat the question was definitely not good for him. The fact that the adopted son has come out and said that he too was abused should put this case over the top for the prosecution with the other victims and witnesses. The fact that 8 of 12 jurors have connections to Penn State makes me wonder if we may be in for another O.J. type verdict. Surely not but it makes me cringe just thinking about it.

J-Man

June 21st, 2012
8:34 pm

I think what should be noted is the COVERUP by Penn State. How McQueary walks in on a 10 year old being RAPED and does nothing about it. Really how could a normal human being not pick up a bat, pipe, gun or at least raise a fist and get Sandusky off of him. But there were several instances of Sandusky carring children to the PSU campus after that instant and carry them into the lockerroom showers. Andthe AD, University President, and Joe PA continued to allow him on the Campus after knowing he raped children but they didnt come out with it because a Football program was more important than children’s lives. The all-time wins by a coach record was more important than childrens safety. And the money donated by Alumni is more important than any childs innocence.
IMO Penn St. deserves to be punished harder than what SMU got in the 1980’s and the Federal government should take away ALL FUNDING from Penn St.

rusty

June 21st, 2012
8:50 pm

“They had one [former Penn State] assistant coach [Dick Anderson] who said it wasn’t unusual for coaches to shower with boys.”

That is scary to read. Coaches are usually adults and they should know better not to shower with young boys. That is sick. If the coaches need to shower, then they can wait until the boys are done.

Dr. Phil

June 21st, 2012
9:07 pm

This story is as much about spineless and corrupt administrators and money as is is about Sandusky. I is impossible for this stuff to go on in the manner that it transpired without it being common knowledge. The President and AD should go to jail. Coaches who cheat or allow players to cheat should be banned like Shoeless Joe Jackson.

dawg4u

June 21st, 2012
9:09 pm

I didn’t realize the trial had already gone to jury. I am still floored that eight jurors have or have had PSU connections. How can that happen? I know – two words – corruption and influence. I sincerely hope the facts of the case override the corruption and influence factor concerning the jury. My grandfather was a country lawyer in Georgia in the sixties and I once heard him use these words to the jury in his closing argument. “Right is right as God is God and Right this day must win; To doubt would be disloyalty and to falter would be sin; So near is grandeur to our dust and so near is God to man; When duty whispers “lo thou must”, the answer is I CAN.” My hope is that these jurors can come up with a fair verdict to these young boys who have suffered so much and to right this wrong that has been done to them, a thing so horrendous that they will never forget it and will suffer well into adulthood. How much is a young man or boy’s pain and suffering worth?

biz

June 21st, 2012
9:59 pm

Its an important case in many ways and I hope he truly gets whats coming to him. However, tying the common sports fan, who has already heard the story and tried Sandusky in his mind based on what the media told him/her, is not the issue. I dont see how a sports fan will/should be more up in arms than a non-sports fan if this jury somehow finds him innocent. It has moved beyond the sports page.