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“I Have a Season to Worry About”



Joe Paterno, moral giant of our age:

A newly unsealed report from a risk-management expert found six different instances where sexual abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky were either witnessed by other coaches or reported to university officials, including a 1976 allegation where one alleged victim made a report directly to head coach Joe Paterno.

The documents are part of a court battle in which Penn State is trying to recoup from its insurance provider millions of dollars paid out in settlements to Sandusky’s victims. That insurance provider’s defense is that Penn State officials kept the allegations secret, and in doing so failed to prevent future instances of abuse.

From the unsealed documents:

The victim, who was identified in court records as John Doe 150, said that while he was attending a football camp at Penn State, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Sandusky’s finger penetrated the boy’s rectum, Doe testified in court in 2014, and the victim asked to speak with Paterno about it. Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.

“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’” the man’s lawyer asked him in 2014.

“Specifically. Yes . . . I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted. . . I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”

Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.

Two assistant coaches and an athletic director were also informed about Sandusky molesting children in separate incidents no later than 1988.

Joe Posnanski’s…regrettable Paterno hagiography makes a big deal out of the fact that Paterno disliked Sandusky, for some reason seeing this as a defense of Paterno. But, strikingly, he never even considers the possibility that he hated Sandusky because he knew about Sandusky’s proclivity for young boys but tried not to think about it because he needed him to win. It’s increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that Paterno knew about it for decades. And it also helps to explain what’s always been a longstanding puzzle: why the defensive coordinator of a highly successful program that won primarily with defense never got a head coaching gig.

Sandusky remained an assistant coach until 1999. After he retired, he continued to run a foundation for young boys, which he founded in 1977. But, to be Scrupulously Fair, Joe Paterno was very assiduous about ensuring that the players who made him a great deal of money never received any compensation.

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