In 1998, Sandusky sexually molested yet another young boy. His mother reported the incident to University Police; they investigated. That investigation included a second child who was subjected to the same treatment. One of the detectives in the case actually listened to a conversation between the mother and Sandusky in which Sandusky admitted to showering with her son, refused to say he would never do it again, and said that “maybe” his genitals had touched the victim. “I understand,” Sandusky said. “I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.” The detectives made Sandusky promise not to do it again. Then they dropped the case, thanks to the district attorney, who decided not to press charges.
In fall 2000, a janitor observed Sandusky performing oral sex on another young boy in the Penn State showers. The janitor was shell-shocked. He said he had “fought in the (Korean) war …seen people with their guts blowed out, arms dismembered … I just witnessed something in there I’ll never forget.” He simply reported it to his supervisor and let it go at that. The supervisor told him where he could report it if he wanted to; the janitor never did so, and neither did the supervisor.
So many people knew about the Sandusky molestations, all the way from the president of the university down to the janitors. Yet for the better part of 20 years, nobody said a word to the police — and even the police who knew about it let it go.
How does that happen? It happens only if Penn State football is an ideology, the be-all-end-all. Everyone involved in the cover-up had an incentive to keep Penn State football strong. They wanted to keep their jobs. They saw no personal benefit in reporting Sandusky, but they feared retaliation if they did so. And so they did nothing.
The truly sickening part of the Penn State story isn’t Jerry Sandusky. We expect truly evil people to be truly evil. The sickening part is the involvement of so many otherwise decent people. Evil isn’t banal, but allowing evil to occur certainly is.
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