Could it be that on some deep and horrible psychological level, it was precisely the fact of Joe Paterno’s moral authority—and God, did he have it, not only as much as anyone in college football, but as much as any prominent person in America in any field—that enabled this revolting daisy chain of denial to exist at Penn State? Because, after all, he was a great man. A great moral man. Great moral men don’t hire depraved monsters. Great moral men don’t let things like this happen in their orbit. Great moral men take care of these things. But he didn’t. This kind of thing could have happened at any university. But it could have happened the exact way it did only at Penn State, where everyone, from that cowed janitor to the president, takes his cues from Coach.
Let us first be blunt about the facts at hand, because some media outlets resort to the kind of euphemism that appallingly softens the blow of what Jerry Sandusky is alleged to have done to “Victim 2,” as he is called in the grand-jury report Forgive my language, but here at the Beast we are permitted these very occasional lapses, so let me say it plainly, the better to ensure that we all understand just how shocking and sickening this is: On the evening of March 1, 2002, Sandusky, it is alleged, was raping a 10-year-old boy in his anus. A 10-year-old boy. In the very showers used by the Nittany Lions players. A boy Sandusky had seduced with promises of things like tickets to games and visits to the mighty Penn State locker room. A graduate assistant, also a former star quarterback and today still an assistant to Paterno, saw it and went to his father. His father told him to go not to the police, according to the report, but to Paterno. The great man would make it right.