Blood On Their Hands: Paterno, Penn State, and the Rape of Children

As a survivor of child rape, the following statements on Twitter this morning concerning the death of ex-coach Joe Paterno disgust me:

“Sad to hear about Joe Paterno. Penn State treated an icon like garbage. Shame on them. Rest in peace Joe pa.”

“Poor Joe Paterno. Shame on the media for always saying that he was involved in a sex scandal! JoePa was a good man. I’m a PSU alum.”

Here’s the only one I can agree with:

“Joe Paterno. Good coach. Bad guy. His legacy is forever tarnished by his inaction.”

The rape of children is not a “sex scandal”, it’s a horrific crime that can ruin a child for life even if they do find the courage to keep fighting and stay alive. A sex scandal is when two consenting adults have sex with somebody they shouldn’t and the discovery of it is condemned. A pedophile raping many little boys over a span of years under the nose of a coach who knew about it and did nothing to stop it is not a sex scandal. It’s a horrific crime.

Before his death, Paterno admitted he knew fellow coach Sandusky was assaulting children. He said he didn’t know what to do because he “had never heard of” male rape. Give me a break, Joe. Sure you never heard of it. You wanted to protect the reputation of your college.

Paterno also admitted he didn’t do enough to make Sandusky stop. So what did he do? He told somebody else and assumed his hands were clean. They were not. The others who were told didn’t do much to stop it or protect those victims either. Don’t get me started on McQueary (an adult with a career at stake) who saw and heard Sandusky committing anal rape on a ten year old boy while pinning him against the wall in the locker room showers. McQueary didn’t call 911, or attempt to save that child. He ran home to tell his daddy, and later told Paterno a watered down version of what he originally reported to his father.

Now Sandusky faces at least 52 counts against him from allegations of 10 victim accusers for raping and molesting them as children.

This is what Paterno and others tried to bury and hide for the sake of their careers and the reputation of a university. The world saw students riot in protest of Paterno being fired, and it looked, to most of us, like students defending a man who did nothing to stop the rape of children.

Now it may take years to wade through the trial of Sandusky and uncover the ugly truths the school officials tried so hard to bury; and for what? For money, for reputation, and for football.

Are these things worth more than a child? Look into the trusting eyes of your children, your nephews or nieces, grandchildren, or even your students. Look at the face of a ten year old boy and try to tell yourself football and the reputation of a college is worth allowing him to be brutally raped. If that were your son, raped by a man… what would you do? Would you be angry that a football coach got fired for not stopping the man who raped your son?

For the victims, there is such a long ugly road ahead as they try to heal. For children it’s worse. For boys, it’s brutal. Boys are supposed to be strong. So many people treat them like they did something wrong. Some are so young, they don’t even know what is happening to them during the rape and they go into shock. Some never come out of that shock, and their whole lives are overshadowed by it. Later at a trial, if their case even gets that far, they’re accused of lying. Or some idiot says “Why didn’t you fight back?” How is that seven or ten year old going to fight off a grown man? I bet McQueary was big enough to make Sandusky stop. Paterno should have been, too. They cared about football and their careers more. The university officials cared about the money football wins bring them, and the reputation of their school. None of them cared about those children, as their innocence, peace, and safety was torn away.

I know what those victims will face as they grow up; if they don’t crumble under the horror, fear, and pain and end up killing themselves to escape it. The first time my father raped me, I was four. I didn’t know what was happening, only that I was in agony, and I wanted to die if it didn’t stop. It did stop. It also happened again, and again. He taught me that I’d been born to provide sex for him, and nobody stopped him. Later at five, he began to rent my body out to his “friends”, other pedophiles he sought out. Nobody stopped it.

I can’t shed a tear for the passing of a football legend coach who did nothing to save those children. All of his record breaking wins are shards of glass for those boys to crawl over as they fight to live with their pain and horror for as long as they can endure it.

You want to be angry and regretful for the messy end to Paterno’s life? I can’t stop you. Though he had since way back in 2002 to do something to make a different outcome. He chose to do nothing. For that, he shares the blame and the shame of the rapist himself, along with McQueary and the others who all did nothing, or didn’t do enough.

No matter how much you care about a sport, nothing will change that. Blood on your hands like that? It doesn’t wash off. Go into those showers where the horror and agony, and the brutal betrayal of those innocent and trusting children tore their bodies and shattered their minds – go there and try to wash those hands clean. Then come back out, look those children in the face, and tell them football is more important. It never will be.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 1/22/2012
For all the children survivors of rape. Be strong. You can heal. Speak out; don’t let silence and secrets destroy you. You are loved, you are precious.

About W.R.R.

Bipolar & survivor of incest/child sex abuse and adult male rape; bisexual, polyamorist, poet/writer/advocate & married father of four. View all posts by W.R.R.

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