Hiding atrocities no better than actions

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sadly, our society has yet to learn that the cover-up is often as bad as the crime. Well, except in the case of Penn State University where the cover-up was terrible and the alleged acts themselves are monstrous.

Failure to grasp this concept, and apparently putting company image and fear of negative publicity over moral and ethical obligations, are what cost head football Coach Joe Paterno and several other key university officials their jobs.

The scandal involving a former Penn State coach who has allegedly sexually abused children for well over a decade is sickening and appalling.

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But maybe worse is that educated men who supposedly were of high moral character essentially turned a blind eye. Although all the details are not out yet, it looks as if school officials did virtually nothing after it was reported that Jerry Sandusky was caught abusing a 10-year-old boy.

But that wasn’t even the first red flag. Others had come up and had been likewise simply swept under the rug.

Penn State officials did nothing to alert law enforcement. They showed absolutely no compassion or concern for the victims. They made no efforts to determine the full magnitude of these heinous crimes.

What did they do? Simply took away the man’s keys to the football offices and shuffled him across the street.

Paterno and his superiors absolutely got it wrong. The university was left with no choice but to terminate their employments. It can be argued that their negligence was criminal.

The one positive aspect that can come from this is the renewed focus on stopping child predators.

This example could help show others that covering up something like this or trying to keep it quiet is the wrong answer legally. It is the wrong answer morally. It is the wrong answer ethically.

Unfortunately, this may be the last lesson that Joe Paterno, a 60-year football coach, teaches his players and the rest of the world.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.