November 28, 2011 by David Gillaspie
by David Gillaspie
The terrible news from Penn State hasn’t gotten any better.
Now Syracuse joins the Nittany Lions’ problem in a league of their own.
Is this where it ends, with long time assistant coaches in prominent programs exposed as child molesters while higher ups either looked the other way, or ignored the evidence?
The kids are the victims with the longest timeline. They carry the heaviest load for what happened to them.
The abusers will eventually come to grips with their acts and pay the price for their violations. You just hope it’s the right price.
What happens with the rest of the cast in these horrible stories? The Penn State football coach and university president were shown the door.
Is that enough?
Penn State administrators will go to court on perjury charges for their part in the child sex abuse cover-up.
Is that enough?
$30 million in lawsuits so far, and climbing.
Syracuse fired the assistant basketball coach. The head coach made amends for earlier statements calling the accusers liars looking to get paid.
The list of those with knowledge of the situation at Penn State include campus and local police, a missing and presumed dead DA, and the current governor who was also a law official during parts of the investigation.
The Syracuse list isn’t as long, but it’s still early. A tape recording of the assistant coach’s wife talking about her husband to a victim makes her #1 on that list.
Certain observers of Penn State say the only way to clean their house is by starting over in the university administration and athletic department, staffing it by hiring people with no ties to the university.
The Syracuse case may need the same bed bug treatment.
The rest of America may point a finger toward both Penn State and Syracuse and ask, “What is wrong with those people.”
No one wants a game of last-word, or one-upmanship, in such ugly affairs, but similarities in other cases are hard to avoid.
The following is such a story.
Once upon a time a state in America was governed by a known pedophile, a child rapist. His crime occurred during his time as mayor of the state’s largest city.
The victim was the babysitter for his kids, the daughter of family friends.
She was thirteen. Her attacker was in his thirties, a rising light in national politics who was appointed Secretary of Transportation late in the Carter administration.
This wasn’t an athletic coach on a college campus running amok, it was something bigger. This was a man with regional and national influence who could make or break ordinary people.
After his abuse victim grew up and got into her spiral she let slip her time with the mayor. If anyone who heard her words on rape were in line to be made or broken by her abuser, they kept quiet. That’s how ‘open secrets’ move into the open.
Did an intoxicated woman rambling about underage sex with the former mayor alert anyone with the power to act?
Not if you wanted to advance your career, or even continue working. Like the Penn State people, they were silent for years and they have that to answer for.
The abused woman died this year, her life at odds with her abuser. The events at Syracuse may have similarities.
When the child molester/rapist confessed his crimes in 2004, he did so as head of the State Board of Higher Education, a position appointed by the sitting governor.
If the swirl of events feels like Penn State, it’s because it is. Powerful men make powerful friends who use their power for protection. Then it all breaks down.
Following the theory of ‘dog years’ and the ratio of one human year equals seven in dog years, the seven years from 2004 until now must feel like an eternity to those who knew the ‘open secret.’ They must feel their shadow shortening over time until they need to come forward with their stories.
If Penn State and Syracuse are going to open the floodgates for child sex abuse victims, and it should, then maybe the abusers will finally receive their just due.
If human decency lives in the dogs with knowledge of the ‘open secret’ child rapist, they must find a way to clear their minds.
Start by addressing the statute of limitations on such crimes; finish by dismissing yourself from your elected or appointed jobs for your negligence.
Failing that, and you will, take the Penn State advice and replace one and all who knew of the sexual assault. Who do you want representing you, a fresh voice from the wilderness, or the tired bray of an old mule waiting for the glue wagon.
Return to the embrace of trust and responsibility, not the calculated chill of one who looks away at opportune times.