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Joe Paterno — Where Do You Stand On the Issue?

By Meghan Gesswein |

Long time, and much loved, Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno has found himself embroiled in controversy this week.

After authorities announced recently that his former Assistant Coast, Jerry Sandusky, had been arrested and charged with the sexual abuse of eight (EIGHT!) young boys, it came to light that not only had JoePa known about the suspected abuse of at least one child, but he had failed to report it to the police. People are coming to his defense, saying that he was only required to report the abuse to school officials, which he did. Supporters argue that the fact that University officials didn’t report the crime to the authorities isn’t his fault, and he should not be held accountable for their actions. Or non-actions, as the case may be.

But this brings up an interesting point. Does someone, especially someone who is involved in youth sports, have an obligation to report suspected child abuse to the police?

Personally, I find it reprehensible that he kept his mouth shut and didn’t make a bigger issue out of this situation. His silence, and that of school officials, after being alerted to an eye-witness account by a graduate student, effectively condoned Sandusky’s behavior and allowed this man to (allegedly) continue molesting young boys. For years.

How they can excuse their actions is beyond anything I can comprehend. Some people are calling for JoePa’s immediate retirement as Head Coach, others are arguing that, as a College Football Legend and beloved Penn State figurehead, he should be allowed to remain as Coach for the rest of the season.

You can read more about the story here.

What are your thoughts? Should he have done more? Should he be “forced” to retire immediately? Because he did what was required by law, and University policy, should he be left alone and allowed to continue coaching, if he so chooses?

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About Meghan Gesswein


Meghan Gesswein

Meghan Gesswein is a stay at home mom to three boys. Most of the time. Meghan is extremely active online, and writes for the ever growing mom blog, Meghan GWine. She was a regular contributor to the Parenting channels on Babble.

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10 thoughts on “Joe Paterno — Where Do You Stand On the Issue?

  1. Jan says:

    I think the grad student (now football coach) is more responsible…or the janitors who saw something and never reported it. Plus, unless we know exactly what Paterno was told word for word I’m having a hard time judging.

    Full disclosure: I graduated from Penn State. This is a cluster eff, and a lot of people made bad moral decisions. Obviously a few made bad legal ones.

    Paterno legally did nothing wrong. Sandusky was not employed by the university at the time, and Paterno followed the rules.

    Not to mention the State College police dropped the ball big time in 1998 when they didn’t file charges against Sandusky. He was let go from the football team in 1999.

    I’m not excusing anyone’s behavior, but this is so much bigger than Paterno. I hate that he is being made into a.scapegoat. He obviously messed up but so did a LOT of others.

  2. Eve says:

    Wait… what? legally he did nothing wrong? I think if you see a ten year old being raped in the showers, it’s probably illegal to not report it.

  3. Meghan Gesswein says:

    @Jan I totally agree that *everyone* involved GROSSLY mishandled the situation. I don’t necessarily think he’s being made into a scapegoat, so much as he’s the most recognizable name, AND he’s the person who is most…involved (for lack of a better word) in the YOUTH aspect of this situation. If that makes sense.

  4. El says:

    Since he didn’t directly observe anything-legally he fulfilled his reporting obligation. Morally, he had a duty to make sure the peoPle he reported it to followed up. The grad assistant who didn’t report directly to police probably is more legally responsible (and morally) since he actually saw it happening. Terrible situation.

  5. TheAvasmommy says:

    Anyone who has knowledge of even alleged sex abuse should call the police. Immediately. No ifs. No ands. No buts. To stay quiet makes one complicit.

  6. Marinka says:

    I don’t understand the rule that if you witness a felony you have to report it to the university.

    I completely don’t care about football or Penn State, but this story makes me absolutely sick. These bastards sacrificed these children for cash and they’re all complicit.

  7. Lydia says:

    Legally he might be clean, but it was reported to him that a child was being raped by one of his buddies, and he thought all he should do is talk to his higher ups?! Every single person who had even a whiff that this pedophile was harming children should be fired immediatly. This isn’t covering up a few free tattoos or getting a free sports car (which gets coaches fired all the time) this is not reporting the RAPE of a CHILD. There is no defense for this no matter how many football games you’ve won.

  8. Terri says:

    Here’s the thing, for me. Should he have done more? Hell yes. But so should have a lot of people. The campus police, the higher ups at the university, everyone who protected Sandusky to cover their own liability.
    But, I’m curious how him quitting, him quitting now or quitting later, helps those victims. Sandusky’s been indicted. The criminal behavior has stopped. I haven’t seen his latest statements but what would mean a lot more to me (I can’t speak for the victims or their families) is a true heartfelt apology and acceptance of the fact that he should have done more.
    It’s so tragic on so many fronts. Regardless of if he is out now or later, his career will be tainted by this. If he had called the police at the time, it may have brought scandal, but at least he could know he’d stopped a criminal and the university would have recovered. And tragic for the victims, who now know that people knew what was happening and didn’t stop it. That is almost as awful as the crime itself.

  9. Linda B says:

    What message is Penn State sending to their students. Both coaches had to resign, and now the President of the University is supposedly resigning today. But Joe gets to “retire” on his terms at the end of the season. He gets to go out in glory to the cheers of the fans. He’ll be lionized all the while permitting other kids to be victims. You can say that Paterno did the legal thing by reporting it up the chain, but morally, he sat on it, never called the police, while this pedophile continued to come onto the campus with kids. Paterno said nothing for 7 years. This whole thing is horrific and the TRUE victims are the children who had their innocence stolen from them.

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