PA--Victims blast Penn State for honoring Paterno
For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016
Penn State’s decision to honor Joe Paterno is stunningly callous. It shows that the joy of alums matters more than the pain of victims.
We will likely never know, really, how much or how little Paterno knew or suspected, if anything, about Sandusky’s horrific crimes. Had he lived, Paterno might have been completely exonerated. Or, conceivably, he might have been convicted and jailed.
But based on decades of research, here’s what we DO know: One four women on campus were sexually violated as youngsters. One in eight men on campus were too. These stats hold true nationwide.
In the hurtful decision to honor a deceased coach, where’s the concern for them?
Four years after the controversial Freeh report, a handful of Penn State staff are choosing to put the misplaced pride of alums above the safety of kids and the healing of victims.
Adults can make it easier or harder for rape and abuse victims to report criminals and stop crimes. And when we publicly rally around accused wrongdoers – like Paterno – we make it harder. Already, many who’ve been sexually assaulted feel hopeless and helpless. When they see grown ups automatically believing and backing those who may have enabled horrific damage, they are even less apt to call police and prevent more horror. It’s just that simple.
So why do we never hear of a single group at Penn State siding with suffering victims of sex crimes? Why does it seem like ex-football players and rabin fans are the only ones weighing in on this controversy?
Where are the campus chaplains? The women’s studies professors? The philosophy and ethics teachers? On the student side, how about the school chapter of “Men Against Rape” or “PSU Men Against Violence?” In the community at large, is there no “ministerial alliance” or similar group that’s brave enough to challenge the resilient idolatry of Penn State football?
Why aren’t the University Police and Public Safety staffers stepping up, and reminding these dozens of ex-players that each time they side with accused wrongdoers they deter victims of rape on campus from stepping forward and stopping rapists?
Why aren’t these groups and individuals speaking up for the defenseless, the vulnerable and the wounded?
Finally, it’s also worth putting this statue brouhaha in a simple but broader perspective.
It’s self-evident to most of the rest of us, but the “pro-Paterno” forces should remember that football is just a game. And Joe Paterno was just a man. The devotion by a loud subset of Penn Staters to a sport and an individual – no matter how fun or fruitful – should never eclipse devotion to innocent kids and suffering adults.
Enthusiasm about football should never cause anyone to blindly rub salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of child sex abuse victims. It should never prod anyone to risk making even one victim of childhood sexual trauma feel even more hopeless and helpless, and suffer in silence rather than disclose who hurt them and perhaps stop one criminal from hurting other kids today)?
It's time – or past time - for university staff and students to show courage and compassion, by standing up to the loud minority of athletes and former athletes and alums whose apparent self-pity and self-absorption continues to hurt abuse victims, help criminals, and denigrate the and the reputation of a good university.
No matter what school officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups at Penn State to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)