Maybe we can get most of the day’s Jerry Sandusky-Joe Paterno news out of the way in one fell swoop today. Probably not: This is the story that refuses to go away quietly. But let’s dig through some of the highlights, shall we?
First up: The New York Daily News reports that Penn State has begun settlement negotiations with some of the Jerry Sandusky abuse victims who have sued the school. But it may not be quite so easy as writing a check and hoping the victims go away:
“We don’t take issue with Penn State starting settlement negotiations,” Marci Hamilton, a Benjamin Cardozo law professor who represents two Sandusky victims who did not testify during Sandusky’s criminal trial last year, told the Daily News on Monday. “But our case is filed in court. We want to make sure that the real issues are addressed by Penn State. This is not just about money. For Jeff (Anderson, another attorney working with Hamilton) and I, there is a lot at stake. You can’t rush justice. I expect Penn State to show some serious changes.”
Meanwhile, the late Joe Paterno’s family is continuing the aggressive defense of the man that started with the weekend unveiling of its own report exonerating him for failing to act in the Sandusky case. Jay Paterno appeared on ESPN Monday to defend his father, saying Sandusky never appeared at practices after retiring from coaching.
“I was asked that by the police, that same question,” Jay Paterno said. “My dad and Jerry Sandusky didn’t particularly like each other. If Jerry Sandusky would have walked on our practice field, we would have known it.
Jay Paterno was also asked if his father “look the other way” to protect the image of Penn State University and that of the football program?
“He didn’t care about image. That didn’t bother him,” Jay Paterno said. “I’m 44 years old I have five children and after reading the presentment to the grand jury I can say I didn’t know enough about all this.
“This report is not about Joe Paterno. This is about educating and helping others moving forward.”
One commenter who disagrees with those last two sentences is Guardian writer Heather Long, who says the Paterno family’s renewed defense of Joe Paterno this week has “once again taken the spotlight from Jerry Sandusky’s victims.”
I appreciate the loyalty of Paterno’s family and fans. But it’s a sad commentary on our society that in the midst of one of the most horrific crimes uncovered against kids in our country, Joe Paterno gets far more mention than the victims. There was even a large vigil for him last month.
It’s time for his family, friends, fans and the university to move on. Or better yet, focus on helping these victims and other victims of sexual abuse. That’s the real tragedy here.
More, surely, to come.