Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jerry Sandusky and Penn State’s Athletic Department – An American Embarrassment

A week ago, the Canadian Justice system sentenced Graham James a former junior hockey coach, for the rape of two teenage boys who had been entrusted to his care, to a two-year prison sentence. Canadians expressed indignation at the injustice. How could a man who had ruined the life of two boys (now adults) receive only two years for ruining the lives of two people? Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly has raped boys as young as eight years old. Sandusky has been indicted on more than 50 charges relating to his rape of eight to ten-year-old boys over a period that spanned decades.

Sandusky is looking for a very different type of justice than Canadian Graham James received. James pleaded guilty to the charges that he was facing. Not only does Sandusky believe he is innocent, but on Thursday, Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, asked the judge to dismiss all charges against Sandusky. Amendola believes some of the counts Sandusky is facing are not specific enough, evidence is lacking in others, and the statute of limitations may have run out regarding eight of the 10 alleged victims.

"We raised a number of issues that we thought were pertinent for various reasons," said Amendola. "But the judge will have to decide that. We'll see what happens."

Amendola is doing what lawyers do, defending his client’s rights. A foundation of the American justice system – the accused are entitled to the best possible defense. Nonetheless, Amendola is defending a man whose crimes to the untrained observer make him indefensible, a man whose alleged crimes are reprehensible.

Sandusky worked for Penn State University from 1969 to 1999 as one of the school’s football coaches. Penn State remains at the center of the Sandusky story. On Friday, NBC News reported internal Penn State files that date back to 1998 suggest psychologist Dr. Alycia A. Chambers, the therapist for one of Sandusky’s alleged victims, warned university police that his actions fit that of a “likely pedophile’s pattern.”

If correct, Dr. Chambers chilling insight offers one of the most “if we knew then, what we know now” analogies ever.

“There was very little doubt in my mind (Sandusky) … was a male predator, someone that was in the process of grooming a young man for abuse,” said Chambers, speaking publicly for the first time, with the permission of her client’s family, in an interview with NBC News. “I thought…my report was strong enough to suggest that this was somebody who should be watched.”

The November 4, 2011 indictments focused on allegations Sandusky raped a ten-year old boy in Penn State’s football team locker room in 2002, charges Sandusky is facing based in large part on the testimony from former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Mike McQueary.

Chambers’ alleging she believed Sandusky was a danger to children in 1998, four years before Sandusky allegedly terrorized a ten-year-old, and six years before he raped a boy in 2004, and was indicted for that after the November 4, 2011 charges were filed.

Penn State University could be facing its greatest fear. Proof the school was well-aware of the man Jerry Sandusky was in 1998 and chose to ignore the allegations and report filed by Dr. Chambers.

Penn State’s Athletic Department has been searching for “dignity” following the November Sandusky indictments. Penn State’s Board of Trustees fired their legendary Hall of Fame football coach, the late Joe Paterno, on November 9, because in large part they believed Paterno had failed as a leader, failed to deal with the aftermath of Sandusky’s reported 2002 rape of a ten-year-old in the football team’s locker room.

If only the Penn State’s Athletic Department had taken charge after they first learned Jerry Sandusky was allegedly a danger to young boys in 1998, what happened in 2002 and again in 2004 might never have happened.

How many boys could have been saved? Sandusky was reportedly on Penn State’s campus as late as October 2011. Sandusky was allowed to conduct football camps at Penn State as recently as two years ago – where was Penn State when Jerry Sandusky was allowed to roam the Penn State campus?

“I was horrified to know that there were so many other innocent boys who had their hearts and minds confused, their bodies violated,” said Chambers. “It’s unspeakable.”

When contacted by NBC News, Joe Amendola dismissed Dr. Chambers 1998 report.

“I understand that there are some people who could look at this behavior and say it’s a pedophile problem. But there are others who will say, ‘This is somebody who loves kids and loves to be around them’ … It’s the old story, you get your expert and I’ll get my expert.”

Sandusky is facing a trial that is scheduled to start May 14. But how will Penn State be held accountable for their actions and the alleged cover-up?

“My consultants agree that the incidents meet all of our definitions, based on experience and education, of a likely pedophile’s pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch, within a context of a ‘loving,’ ‘special’ relationship,” Chambers wrote in her report.

“One colleague, who has contact with the Second Mile, (a nonprofit organization for children founded by Sandusky) confirms that Mr. Sandusky is reasonably intelligent and thus, could hardly have failed to understand the way his behavior would be interpreted, if known,” Chambers continued. “His position at the Second Mile and his interest in abused boys would suggest that he was likely to have had knowledge with regard to child abuse and might even recognize this behavior as a typical pedophile ‘overture.’”

Why wasn’t Penn State more pro-active in following up Chamber’s 1998 report? The same reasons why Penn State covered up the 2002 Sandusky allegations – the business of Penn State football.

There are few college campuses where college football is big as it is at Penn State. During the 2007-08 season the Nittany Lions football program generated $91,570,233. During the 2009-10 football season, according to Department of Education records, Penn State’s football program generated a $50.4 million profit based on total revenues of $70.2 million. Penn State's football team made $53,228,446 last season. Beaver Stadium, the home for Penn State football, has increased from 29,000 to 108,000 seats since Joe Paterno became head coach in 1966.

Penn State’s football program generates a profit in excess of $50 million a year. Financially Penn State’s football program is one of the biggest in college sports. It appears Penn State’s football program is morally and ethically bankrupt, and for that, should it be forced to pay a price that will never be measured in dollars?

For Sports Business News, this is Howard Bloom

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