Not Off the Hook

Yesterday, a Pennsylvania jury convicted former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts.

Over the past 12 months, since the Jerry Sandusky case came to broad public awareness, I’ve written 3 pieces about him, Penn State and sexual abuse:

  1. The first discusses Joe Paterno and Penn State.
  2. The second takes a look inside the PR machines that get built around these cases.
  3. The third puts the case into the broader context of the year’s PR disasters.

While I am gratified that this particular child molester has been convicted and may never be free to molest again, I think we should all be very cautious about feelings of relief. A great many people knew about Sandusky’s behavior for a very long time before his arrest and did nothing. In my professional experience with sexual abuse, which is considerable, this is often the case, despite what would-be Rambos assert afterward.

Most people will still go into denial, look away, or become impotent bystanders when faced with evidence of sexual abuse.

We can take some measure of comfort from Sandusky’s conviction, but it’s all for naught if we remain bystanders when evidence of abuse presents itself in our own lives.

3 thoughts on “Not Off the Hook”

  1. Right on, Brent. The NYT reports today on a teacher at a NY under investigation who molested 3 boys a decade or two ago who claims that in those days this stuff was considered “harmless” and “not a crime.” Denial sure. But was it, in a certain tier of culture here, considered harmless? Something like it’s considered harmless to molest boys in madrassars in Pakistan today? If not harmless, then certainly condoned by inaction.

    1. Yes, of course. “Harmless” and “not a crime.” And an educator once told me that I shouldn’t be concerned about one of his staff having sexual relations with a student because she came from a community (i.e., African American) that was sexually active very early in life, so it was, therefore, consensual. There are a million such stories, much to our society’s discredit.

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