Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine– a plague on both their houses
With the holiday season upon us, it’s good to know alleged child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will be spending at least the next day or so in the crowbar motel.
The biggest sports story of 2011, allegations of child molestation linked to two of America’s storied athletic programs, took another twist Wednesday with news that Sandusky was arraigned on two more charges of child molestation.
Earlier Wednesday, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick announced alleged child molester and now fired Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine will avoid New York charges because the statute of limitations has passed.
Sandusky is now facing allegations from ten different boys who all claim Sandusky had molested them. Unlike Fine, Sandusky won’t benefit from any statute of limitations.
Sandusky, who continues to claim he isn’t a pedophile, was first arrested on November 5, 2011. A little more than a month ago on the day Sandusky was first arrested, Joe Paterno was in his 46th year as Penn State’s head football coach, Graham Spanier in his 16th year as Penn State President.
Both Paterno and Spanier were fired days after the Sandusky allegations were first reported. Paterno and Spanier were fired in large part because of an alleged cover-up at Penn State that followed after then Penn State’s graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary caught Sandusky raping a ten-year old boy in the Penn State locker room in 2002, and decided to not contact the police department as they were legally (and morally) obligated too.
According to the latest grand jury testimony victim number nine was first assaulted in 2004, and the other, called Victim 10, told the grand jury he was assaulted after being referred to Second Mile in 1997.
Victim number nine (now 18) claims Sandusky took him to Penn State football games and gave him gifts and money. Victim number nine, according to the grand jury, claimed Sandusky raped him in the basement of the Sandusky home in 2004.
Given the Penn State chose to cover-up the 2002 allegations, if victim number nine is to be believed, victim nine might not be a victim. There is no forgiveness for anyone at Penn State who played any role in the aftermath of the 2002 incident and failed to report the allegations to local law officials.
“As in many of the other cases identified to date, the contact with Sandusky allegedly fit a pattern of `grooming’ victims,” Attorney General Linda Kelly said in a statement. “Beginning with outings to football games and gifts; they later included physical contact that escalated to sexual assaults.”
Victims nine and ten both claim they met Sandusky through The Second Mile charity for at-risk children that the ex-coach founded in 1977. The sad truth, the biggest risk young boys who were looking for help faced in reaching out to The Second Mile was Sandusky.
Did Sandusky ever care about the young boys he claimed he was trying to help or was he simply in search of young boys he could take advantage of in his role with The Second Mile?
According to the Grand Jury report Sandusky forced victim nine to perform oral sex on him and attempted, on at least 16 different times, to anally penetrate him.
“The victim testified that on at least one occasion he screamed for help, knowing that Sandusky’s wife was upstairs, but no one ever came to help him,” the grand jury report said.
The 10th accuser told the grand jury he first met Sandusky at The Second Mile in 1997. He was 10 at the time and experiencing problems at home and attended Penn State games.
Victim 10, according to the grand jury, was subject to wrestling Sandusky in the basement of the Sandusky home. The accuser also detailed incidents at a pool on the Penn State campus, and a time when Sandusky allegedly exposed himself in a car and requested oral sex from the boy.
Sandusky had been charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight young boys over a 15-year span.
In Syracuse, the home of the second major college sports related sexual molestation scandal; Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick’s news didn’t surprise anyone.
When Bobby Davis first went to the Syracuse department in 2002, he was told the statue of limitations had expired on the claims he made against then Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
Soon after the Sandusky story broke, Davis and his stepbrother Michael Lang came forward to again try and have the allegations against Fine brought forward. While Fine might still face Federal charges, Fitzpatrick made it clear both Davis and Lang have credibility.
"On almost every single criteria, Bobby Davis came out as a credible person," the district attorney said. "Mike Lang also comes across as a credible person."
The sports industry has been hit hard by the allegations of sexual molestation. The entire industry will feel the pain for many years.
What is important to consider:
• 99.9 percent of coaches are honorable men and women would NEVER harm a child
• 99.9 percent of coaches are men and women cherish the opportunity to mentor young people
• Thousands of young people have grown as people because of the positive mentoring they have received from 99.9 percent of the adults that have been in their lives
• It’s a certainty every college athletic program is doing extensive background checks on every coach, every employee within their athletic department. No stone will go under turned. No one wants to be the next Penn State or Syracuse.
• If Sandusky’s victim number 9 is to be believed, everyone who knew about the incident that took place in the Penn State football locker room in 2002 needs to be held accountable. And for good measure Penn State should demolish their football locker room. How could anyone associated with the Penn State football program ever again feel comfortable if Sandusky’s den of perversion?
• The NCAA is in the midst of investigating Penn State’s athletic program. The NCAA has a long list of rules and regulations when it comes to paying players, fixing grades, gifts, overactive boosters but has no rules in place when it comes to incidents along the lines of what allegedly has taken place at Penn State and Syracuse. If Penn State took an active cover-up of former coach Jerry Sandusky; Penn State must face serious penalties. The same is true for Syracuse.
• It is imperative the NCAA create a far ranging conduct code for anyone working for the NCAA or a member institution. It is a privilege, not a right, to work in college athletics. The NFL has created a conduct code for their employees and the people who work for NFL teams.
99.9 percent of the men and women who work in college sports are good people. The allegations against Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine have cast a terrible light on college coaches.
It isn’t fair to the thousands of great men and women who coach and work with young people, but if any good can come from the Sandusky and Fine incidents, it’s that everyone who is working with young people be held up to the increased scrutiny in the coming weeks and months.
That will be for the good of the game.
For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom