Does Dottie Sandusky deserve a jail cell too?

Washington Post blogger Melinda Henneberger asks the question: Does Dottie Sandusky deserve a jail cell of her own?

Her husband, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted this week of 45 counts of violating 10 kids over 15 years sometimes in their home and yet she was unaware of any of it, according to Dottie Sandusky’s testimony. She didn’t hear any screams from the basement.

Henneberger points out in her Washington Post blog that “teachers, therapists, even priests have a legal duty to report attacks on children, but it’s murkier for spouses, because the “spousal privilege’’ that prevents a wife from ever having to testify against her husband in effect puts the protection of a marriage above the safety of a child. And what kind of message does that send others in Dottie’s situation?…”

From the Washington Post:

“In (Frederick County, Md. prosecutor Scott) Rolle 25 years as a prosecutor, he saw many a horrified, heartbroken wife call the cops on the predator she’d married.”

“But sometimes, he says, a child molester’s Mrs. protects him instead. With the stakes so high, “people sometimes convince themselves they didn’t see what they saw,’’ hear what they heard, or know what they know. Which certainly comes in handy on the witness stand: “If you can convince yourself it didn’t happen, then you can convincingly say you don’t know anything….”

“In some counties in the Washington area, a parent can go to jail for chronically failing to get her kid to school on time, but nowhere in America is a woman with “another big kid…to supervise” held responsible for willful ignorance.”

Please read her whole column here. I can only pull a few graphs but it is really worth your time to read all she wrote on the subject. And then come back and offer your opinion.

So what do you think? Did Dottie Sandusky truly not know what was going on? (Could they have had a normal marital life?)  Do you think she just completely shut her eyes and blocked it out?

Should wives be held legally responsible for things that happen in their house? (What if a husband gives a minor alcohol in the house? Is the wife responsible if she’s home too?) Is she culpable in this case?

46 comments Add your comment


June 27th, 2012
1:11 am

She knew. She was just too happy and comfy with her cushy life. Yes, she deserves a jail cell. She adopted children in the name of enabling and aiding and abetting. She should spend the rest of her life in jail, too. Lord knows, she is probably livid that her comfortable living situation is over and her money might go to dirty little peasant children.


June 27th, 2012
6:37 am

The prosecution was not interested in Mrs. Sandusky period. It was her husband. additionaly, she did not participate. However, the question was she aware and if so should she have gone to the police. The answer is obviously YES. By not doing so, it made her a coconspirator.
Women are that way many times.They find many serious flaws in their husbands character and they just go along[whistling while they work] with their husbands abbreations. They can give a hundred reasons, one of the favorites,” I feel trapped in the relationship.”
Well enough of that, life wasn’t meant to be perfect.


June 27th, 2012
7:15 am

How did she NOT know?


June 27th, 2012
7:22 am

People can convince and rationalize themselves of a lot of things until reality slaps them in the face. If I were Dottie Sandusky, I’d be so angry right now, I’d be at risk for a stroke, especially if I just found out about my SON being abused.

Last I heard, you couldn’t throw someone in jail for being clueless.


June 27th, 2012
7:39 am

Any woman who fails to protect her children against a monster, especially her husband, belongs in jail. Any woman who stands with a man she KNOWS abuses children, deserves just as much as the husband does. So yes, if she knew what was going on, she had a duty to protect those children, and yes, she should go to jail for aiding and abetting such behavior. @Es has it right, she was too comfortable in her lifestyle and didn’t want to sacrifice it. Instead she chose to sacrifice her children.

It is our duty to protect our children. If anyone, I mean ANYONE lays a hand on any of my children, I will be the one facing murder charges. I’m not afraid to go after anyone who harms my children.


June 27th, 2012
7:49 am

how can anyone say for sure that she knew. i know i have found out things my ex did way after the fact. wives and husbands dont always know what their spouse is doing. no one else knew….maybe she didnt either.

Voice of Reason

June 27th, 2012
7:57 am

If she truly did not know what was happening then that is her defense, and unless you were in her head witnessing her thoughts firsthand, it will be hard to prove otherwise.

A spouse should never be legally required to rat out their significant other. I know that sounds horrible especially in light of this instance but there is a reason that law exists. Imagine if you were brought to testify against your spouse for something, would you be able to do it? Especially if you felt they were innocent?

Bob Loblaw

June 27th, 2012
7:59 am

The wife is almost always the last defender of the man she thought she married. However, Jerry Fine, coach at Syracuse, who is accused of child molestation himself, has a wife that’s basically blown his cover. She knew. In the law, we call that conspiracy.


June 27th, 2012
8:04 am

I know there were a significant number of people (moms included) who thought Joe Paterno should have also been prosecuted for “covering it up”, even though he never personally saw anything, AND reported the rumors he did hear to his superiors.


June 27th, 2012
8:12 am

I would have a few questions: Did she know he was supposed to be barred from bringing kids to the locker rooms at PSU? If she was aware of that investigation, she should not have been blindsided by the events in November and should have been vigilant about what was occurring in her household. The big question would be WHY was she was involved in Second Mile and foster-parenting? I do not know her at all, but she comes across as really resenting the kids they were supposed to “help”. To describe them as “conniving, manipulative, clingy” is weird in itself. To complain about money spent for a luncheon and airline tickets they CHOSE to do is not the type of behavior one would expect from someone genuinely interested in the welfare of kids.


June 27th, 2012
8:36 am

she knew—-nothing else needs to be said


June 27th, 2012
8:55 am

There’s no way she didn’t know and is a monster in her own right for failing to protect those children. I hope that the civil suits leave her penniless and in misery the rest of her life even if she doesn’t sit behind bars.


June 27th, 2012
9:04 am

I went back and read the article and while there may be some with sympathy for Dottie b/c she didn’t know she was going to marry a child molester, or b/c she was just trying to be the good wife or protect her family, yadda, yadda, yadda, I don’t buy any of it as a good excuse. People do different mental things to protect themselves, just the same as their son did to block out the abuse, but she did it for selfish reasons; and for that, I have no sympathy.


June 27th, 2012
9:06 am

Of course she knew. Seriously, screams coming from the basement and she never went down there to check?? PHU-LEAZ.

Does she deserve jail? Probably, but it will never happen based on how the law is written. Maybe there will be a small consolation in the fact that she is now effectively a widow, will be bereft of all the comforts she previously enjoyed, be shunned in public for ever, and eventually, God willing, she will get her just deserts when judgement arrives from a better source than men.


June 27th, 2012
9:13 am

TWG – Your censor ate 3 posts. All are G-rated. Dig them out if you like.

Roberta Higginbotham

June 27th, 2012
9:18 am

I guess she’d have to be charged with some sort of crime before being sent to jail. There is a law called Misprision of Felony, where someone has knowledge of the commission of a felony and does not report it to authorities shall be fined or imprisoned. I believe all of the Penn State officials who were aware of the “shower incident” and never reported it could be charged.


June 27th, 2012
9:24 am

For all of you who are jumping on the “she knew” bandwagon, please keep in mind that this is nothing more than supposition on your part as there is no manner by which “you” can know exactly “what” she knew. Trust me, I believe in my mind that she, too, had some knowledge of the unfortunate incidents but my “thoughts and feelings” are a long way from being able to know and prove such and, therefore, how can a jail cell be “deserved”?
It is almost the same principal in this case when compared to what Andrea Sneiderman “knew” about her husband’s demise. Thinking and believing is not “beyond a reasonalbe doubt” and it’s East vis-a-vis West from “innocent until proven guilty. Which means one huge gap.
It goes back to that pesky “burden of proof” hiccup.
Do I think that both of these women are totally innocent? Hard to believe doubful any one of us or prosecutors have the evidennce to prove otherwise.

☺☻Have A Smile!

June 27th, 2012
9:46 am

I would heavily lean towards her knowing “something” or that “something wasn’t right” given that when a man has an affair, crime, etc. the wife usually feels something is wrong.

But I suppose we need real evidence.

I bet there were clues, however!


June 27th, 2012
9:46 am

There is not a doubt in my mind that she knew. Like someone said, how could she NOT know? For whatever reason she decided to turn a blind eye, which makes her guilty of supporting and covering up for her sick, child molester/rapist dear husband. Pathetic.

Tonya C.

June 27th, 2012
9:49 am

I believe she knew. I don’t think they have enough on her to prosecute. But I do know the bar in the civil court will probably be met for her to face financial penalties. I think she used that children’s charity and the foster care to feed her husband with a steady supply of victims, and I think others who aren’t coming out know this as well.

Warrior Woman

June 27th, 2012
9:53 am

Henneberger has nothing but conjecture. And worse, her conjecture is apparently based, at least in part, on her dislike of an ancient photo and her dislike of the chapter in Sandusky’s book discussing how he met his wife.

Mrs. Sandusky almost certainly had no knowledge of her husband’s being barred from bringing kids to the locker rooms at PSU. It seems highly unlikely that he would tell her, and the school would have violated laws related to the privacy of personnel information if they had told her.

Did she hear anything from the basement? Who knows? I know that if the basement door is closed in my home and I am upstairs, it is difficult to hear what’s happening in the basement, especially if the stereo or television is on, or if the washer, dryer, dishwasher, or vacuum is running. And depending on what, if anything, she heard, it may not have been clear whether the noises were resulting from boisterous play or harm.

If the prosecution had any evidence that she had known or participated, given the press and the environment, do you think they wouldn’t have at least tried to prosecute her? As Me said, it all goes back to that pesky burden of proof.

That said, I would hate to be in her shoes, and have to live with the results of her inactions, whether she knew, suspected, or was just totally clueless.


June 27th, 2012
10:13 am

OK, your husband is in the house with some boys in the basement. Why don’t you go see what is going on? This happened for YEARS, yet she never went down to check? She KNEW what was going on in her home, but may have been to scared to say anything to the husband. He may have had the upper hand with her too.

It’s like staying with an abuser. You are so scared to leave. Maybe she was going through that. We will never know. We weren’t there. We can only speculate and then cast our own judgment as to what went on in her home……but we aren’t supposed to judge. We really don’t know what happened.


June 27th, 2012
10:22 am

Predators are often very good at covering their tracks, so there is at least a possibility that she was unaware of his crimes.

IF she knew what he was doing and chose to ignore it, she is a terrible, terrible person. But, if her husband kept his activities hidden from her all these years, that makes her a victim — not as much of a victim as the boys Sandusky abused, but her life has been ripped apart and her name is ruined. If she didn’t know, then she deserves our pity.


June 27th, 2012
10:36 am

I find it *HIGHLY UNLIKELY* that she didn’t know. However, unless there is a way to out-and-out prove that she knew, the prosecutors’ hands are tied, unfortunately. Unless a piece of evidence surfaces that proves she had knowledge and didn’t do anything, she’s scot-free.

If she knew, I don’t know how she can sleep with herself at night. If she didn’t, I’m boggled as to how she was kept in the dark, especially considering the testimony we’ve heard that a lot of the attacks were in her own house while she was there, and screaming was involved.

joan conway

June 27th, 2012
10:41 am

GET REAL…she absolutely knew and enabled and shut her eyes to the whole thing that was going on…how many guys do we know who invited “young boys only” to their house and spends time with kids outside the work area just for the heck of it….she knew but she was an ostrich and put her head in the sand. He did it under the guise of love for kids and she did it under the guise of love for her husband…no matter the guise, they are both equally guilty. Life for him and life for her, disgusting couple that they are!!! The boys will be changed forever!!…Shame on her!!!


June 27th, 2012
11:08 am

The fact is that child sex offenders are masters of presenting a facade that makes them indistinguishable from the rest of us. They are very methodical in their behavior and exercise great caution to not be caught. But if Dottie Sandusky knew about his actions, then she deserves to rot in jail like him. I wonder if she ever talked about sexual assault prevention with her own son? Most of these predators “accidentally” touch a victim to gauge their reaction and if the victim doesn’t protest, the pedophile views this as a “green light” to continue. Educating your kids on how to handle themselves in that kind of situation is probably the best way to see that it never occurs. There’s a great resource to help parents do this at


June 27th, 2012
11:29 am

@Michael, you may be right about many sex offenders, but several former Penn State football players have said that Sandusky was always “creepy”. He was overly touchy-feely and gave off a an uncomfortable vibe.

Dude was a creep.


June 27th, 2012
12:21 pm

You cannot know what someone else knows or doesn’t know. So the people here that say “She knew!” are obviously Godlike in their abilities. You can say she probably knew, or it seems impossible that she didn’t, but you cannot say that you know she knew. So the question as asked is not possible to answer.

judy carnahan

June 27th, 2012
12:25 pm

Pedophelia and incest in the context of the family dynamics is worth studying to understand each member of the Sandusky family. The survivors of sexual abuse have heroically spoken the truth. In their testimony Matt Sandusky was able to break free. May those remaining in the prison of their own defenses both in the family and at Penn State follow suit.


June 27th, 2012
12:42 pm

Doesn’t anybody else find it interesting that they chose to adopt Matt not until AGE 18??? Hmmmm… perhaps he was promised inheritance/hush $$??


June 27th, 2012
1:01 pm

She definitely knew something. She is guilty at least of not caring. I get so sick of when the spouse, almost always the wife, claims that they had no knowledge. That was the same argument used by Bernie Maloff’s wife and in so many other cases, whether it be mob, drugs, abuse, financial and murder.Of course she knew something! Same with Andrea Sneiderman, who is guilty as hell but probably will never be held accountable.


June 27th, 2012
1:23 pm

It’s interesting that many people say “she HAD to know.” No, not really. All the cases we hear about where the wife didn’t know her husband was having an affair with whomever, etc. speaks to that. At her age, especially, SOME women did what their husbands told them, and didn’t question anything. When my husband goes to the basement, he’s playing video games but I leave him alone. He probably said they’d be watching a game or something and to leave him alone. She probably did that. She doesn’t appear to be an especially bright woman, though.

non committal mind reader

June 27th, 2012
1:44 pm

If she knew, she deserves a jail cell. It is hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt exactly what she knew. If someone screamed in my basement, no one upstairs would hear it… especially if the A/C was running and the stereo or TV was on.


June 27th, 2012
2:17 pm

I think she knew something was up, but I guess she will answer for it in the hereafter.


June 27th, 2012
2:38 pm

If Social Security doesn’t pay you when you’re locked up, maybe Dottie was trying to protect her income. That would make money more important to her than protecting those unfortunate children.


June 27th, 2012
4:59 pm

You can’t know what goes on inside of someone else. There are a lot of reasons that a person would block out bad things happening in their world – it’s not an excuse, but it can become a persons reality. For instance, I was abused as a child by my uncle & my stepfather. My mother knew but was paralized and did nothing. Now, before you all start to scream about what a horrible person she is – hear me out. I was a very self destructive teenager and progressed to a self destructive adult before a good friend finally drug me to counseling. In there I found myself, and eventually had the courage to confront my mother. Turns out she was abused too and my issues triggered her to the point of black out. My mother has since received counseling for herself and has forgiven herself for what she couldn’t not do for me – I’ve forgiven her as well. All I’m saying is that you cannot know what happens to another person faced with trauma unless you can somehow walk in their shoes..and you never can. People are broken in all kinds of ways that we can’t see. The important thing in all of this is to talk to our kids and teach them not to be ashamed to talk about ANYTHING. We need to teach society as a whole that we ALL need to watch out for one another – especially the children. A whole community failed those children…and it happens everyday all over the world.


June 27th, 2012
7:42 pm

Enter your comments here


June 27th, 2012
10:41 pm

Give me a break! This women most likely knew,but would not go against her perverted husband. Who knows the abuse she endured. She did not have the spine to save the kids. She instead, fed her husband’s sick appetite. I feel strongly, Dottie looked the other way.She also played a role in the rouse with the Second Mile opportunity.The motive for fostering so many children, makes one wonder.


June 27th, 2012
11:41 pm

Charge her with a crime and let the justice system sort it out. But definately charge her.


June 28th, 2012
7:28 am

Everyone in Pennsylvania should be locked up, just to be safe and catch all of the perverts. So what if a few innocents are in the slammer, the media has spoken, and this whole state just had to know…because that somewhat, almost-intelligent, media talking head said so.
We must always do what the media requires of us, even though they haven’t a clue about paltry little things like, justice, trial by jury, and the like. The media gods are at least smart enough to look it up on the internet, so it has to be true, or that computer thingt wouldn’t allow it. I mean, who would have thought women have sex with donkeys, but there it is on the internet, same as in Tijuana.


June 28th, 2012
9:19 am

Wellone…. that is your perrogative if you want to continue to enable and make excuses for those who turned a blind eye. I’m sure your abusers were abused as children as well and that’s why they did those things, right? Sorry… people know and understand what they’re doing and why and they CHOOSE to “blank it out” — I know from EXPERIENCE.


June 28th, 2012
12:10 pm

She knew..She was an accessory to what Scumdusky was doing. Just like the rest of the scum at Penn. State. The hand of one is the hand of all. The young coach who witnessed the incident in the shower doesn’t get off either. Why didn’t he stop the incident, instead of calling the police he calls his father. Way to go to protect a child. He was looking out for his own ass! BTW…Getting on the standing and lying is called …prejury…Thank God for the Mother who had the balls to stand up for her child and and did the right thing and blow this out of the water for her child and all the other children who had been abused by Scumdusky. Regardless of who someone thinks that they are no one on God’s green earth is above the law or above God and will answer eventually for what ills they have done especially to children, disabled people, and the ederly. Satan can have Scumdusky! Wake up people and be aware of what is going on and protect your families don’t let others take care of your children and if others are too friendly to your kids there is a reason!


June 28th, 2012
1:33 pm

She should also have been at least questioned by cops for her lame attempt at trying to act like she’s going to run over a reporter and camera man. What an idiot.


June 28th, 2012
6:14 pm

Turning a blind eye to her denial sends a message to all women that is wrong. It doesn’t help her or anyone in the past, present or future to avoid the truth…it keeps the horror of child abuse alive. Charge her and put her through the paces and see what happens. Maybe she will break down and begin to live an honest life. She didn’t know what was happening in her house of horrors? No way.


June 28th, 2012
9:28 pm

Of course she knew! Claims she couldn’t have kids probably because she didn’t have a sexual relationship with Jerry! Too busy finding innocent children for him!!!! Hope they both rot in hell!!!


June 30th, 2012
11:18 am

Like it didnt even cross her mind the last 35 years. BS, can you people see he did this religiously i wish more people would speak some truth. the victoms, children dont know what really happend to makes me feel so good that da and others finally stood up to those FEAR MONGERS.