The trial of Jerry Sandusky has been concluded. Louis Freeh’s investigative report has been written. And still the statue of Joe Paterno still stands on Penn State’s campus. And this is but one example that Penn State is still in denial of Papa Joe Paterno’s wrongdoing and involvement in the Sandusky sex abuse scandal. How do you keep a statue of a man that was fired for aiding and abetting a known—at least to him, child sex abuser? There should be no question that the statute should be removed. It should have been removed shortly after Paterno’s firing.
A statue honors the legacy of a hero—someone who set an outstanding example. Paterno does not fit that category. He is a disgraced and fallen coach. All the years of Paterno’s coaching rests on the lives of the young boys that Sandusky raped. There is no reason to honor greed and corruption. A college cannot honor someone who brings dishonor upon them in the most vile way.
The statue must be removed to teach the students of Penn State that a wrong of this magnitude should not be honored in any way. Students attend college to learn. And Penn State is in a position to teach its students and others a valuable lesson in life. The good that you do is destroyed by the despicable acts to protect a child sex predator.
While some may say that Sandusky is the criminal and he has been found guilty. Paterno knowingly allowed his friend, colleague and fellow coach to roam free and commit egregious sex acts on multiple child victims over a ten year period. He is as guilty as Sandusky. Sandusky is a hopeless pedophile. Paterno was his power broker.
Ironically, Paterno protected and shielded Sandusky to prevent harm to Penn state’s reputation. In the end, Paterno’s actions brought far more harm than just to Penn state’s reputation and football profits. He helped to destroy the lives of countless boys, now young men. In a criminal setting, the person who commits the murder is as guilty as the one knowingly waiting in the get- away car. Both can get a life sentence.
There is no honor in Paterno’s actions. There is only shame. And there are no statues given to honor disgrace and shame.
Post Script: Penn State removed Joe Paterno’s statue on July 22, 2012. On July 23, 2012 the NCAA will release their sanctions against Penn State.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She also writes for the Huffington Post.