Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

A Moral Dilemma: Where Do You Stand?

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

November 10, 2011

A Moral Dilemma: Where Do You Stand?
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

I sat glued to the television last night as Penn State students rioted over Joe Paterno's firing.

As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I sat in disbelief. The primary question was, why would they support Paterno over such a scandal as this?

But I had to remove myself from the equation and really see what was going on. I got to tell you, this for me is one moral dilemma just all the way around. Typical of me, I did some reading because the television doesn't say it all. I still have yet to read the court affidavits on the actual charges on Sandusky, but make no mistake I will read them just as I did in the Eddie Long Case.

A Moral Dilemma: Where Do You Stand?

If you've been on Planet Mars the last few days, or you are still trying to make sense of it all, let me fill you in. Jerry Sandusky was a Defensive Coach at Penn State and has been arrested for years of sexual molestation of boys.

It was revealed that the legendary Coach Joe Paterno was informed about Sandusky's abuse of a child in the locker rooms. A graduate student saw Sandusky having anal sex with a boy of about 10 years old in the shower and the next day he went to Paterno home to inform him of what he saw.

Paterno reported the abuse internally to the Athletic Director, who reported it to the Senior Vice President of Business and Finance for the university and it seems that it never went any further. The graduate student who originally reported it is now on the coaching staff for Penn State football team. So at least four people with a long-term relationship with the university knew that Sandusky was a pedophile.

To date, Curly, the Athletic Director and Schultz the VP who knew resigned. Paterno and the President of the university have been fired. The graduate student is still a member of the athletic staff.

Honestly, there was a part of me that felt sad for Paterno. He has an awesome record at Penn State, not just about football but with promoting excellence in education among the students. At 84 years old having spent 61 years of his life at Penn State this has got to be a blow for him. Emotionally how does one recover from this abrupt ending? He has spent most of his life at Penn State. It is all that he knows and it has been taken away in a blink of an eye. But he clearly played a role in his demise.

A Moral Dilemma: Where Do You Stand?

My ethics teacher in seminary would put Penn State and Paterno on the table and ask, should they have allowed him to finish the year and retire? Just as we ask, should he have been fried right away for not reporting this to the police. You have to ask, what does the Board of Trustees know that has not been said? That was the primary question I have? There was clearly a cover up, was it spoken or unspoken? The question must be asked, given Paterno's power at Penn State. It is impossible for me to believe that he didn't know how it all played out, which was basically no action. And why wouldn't he take action if they didn't; That is inexcusable!!!

But the larger question and my bottom line, What About The Children? As I began to understand the case it saddened me to know that the children were failed. There were so many chances to STOP Sandusky not just at Penn State, but also with the authorities. Read this timeline below, it's deep. A janitor saw Sandusky performing Oral Sex on a child and he told his immediate supervisor at Penn State and other employees and NO one reported it.

One mother reported it to the university police. In the end, the State Police, the University Police and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare knew as early as 1998 and Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricer failed to charge Sandusky. They all knew and did nothing!

If any of these people still have jobs in the same areas, they also need to be fired. Understand this, so many people knew and did NOTHING. And when a mother tried to get help for her child the system failed her. Given the power of Penn State, I wonder if Sandusky had no prominent position at the university would this had been handled differently?

And then, the children knew that adults knew but did NOTHING to help them. It's being victimized all over again. When adults tell children to tell and you do nothing, what should children then believe and trust?

When adults see it happening for themselves and do nothing how should a child feel? No one cared enough to help them. I remember when I told my mother that her husband was grabbing on me, she said, "Bitch I'm not gonna let you fuck up my shit." How does one recover from double victimization? Where do children go when those who should protect them don't?

Yes, this one will go down in the history books. And while I understand the students love of Joe, I also understand the years that it takes to recover from this trauma of being raped as a child and also no one coming to help you. Each of us gotta weight this out with our own understanding and ethic. But heart is heaviest most today for the Children

And for the record if I see an adult raping a child I'm going to pick up the nearest thing I can that will hurt they ass and hit and hit, and then call the police!

Jerry Sandusky Sexual Abuse Timeline as We Know It Today

A chronological look at the case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, based on a grand jury report in Pennsylvania state court. Some key dates in Penn State football history are included. Sandusky has been charged with 40 criminal counts, accusing him of serial sex abuse of minors.

1969: Jerry Sandusky starts his coaching career at Penn State University as a defensive line coach.

1977: Jerry Sandusky founds The Second Mile. It begins as a group foster home dedicated to helping troubled boys and grows into a charity dedicated to helping children with absent or dysfunctional families.

January 1983: Associated Press voters select Penn State as college football's national champion for the 1982 season.

January 1987: Associated Press voters select Penn State as college football's national champion for the 1986 season.

1994: Boy known as Victim 7 in the report meets Sandusky through The Second Mile program at about the age of 10.

1994-95: Boy known as Victim 6 meets Sandusky at a Second Mile picnic at Spring Creek Park when he is 7 or 8 years old.

1995-96: Boy known as Victim 5, meets Sandusky through The Second Mile when he is 7 or 8, in second or third grade.

1996-97: Boy known as Victim 4, at the age of 12 or 13, meets Sandusky while he is in his second year participating in The Second Mile program.

1996-98: Victim 5 is taken to the locker rooms and showers at Penn State by Sandusky when he is 8 to 10 years old.

Jan. 1, 1998: Victim 4 is listed, along with Sandusky's wife, as a member of Sandusky's family party for the 1998 Outback Bowl.

1998: Victim 6 is taken into the locker rooms and showers when he is 11 years old. When Victim 6 is dropped off at home, his hair is wet from showering with Sandusky. His mother reports the incident to the university police, who investigate.

Detective Ronald Schreffler testifies that he and State College Police Department Detective Ralph Ralston, with the consent of the mother of Victim 6, eavesdrop on two conversations the mother of Victim 6 has with Sandusky. Sandusky says he has showered with other boys and Victim 6's mother tries to make Sandusky promise never to shower with a boy again but he will not. At the end of the second conversation, after Sandusky is told he cannot see Victim 6 anymore, Schreffler testifies Sandusky says, "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."

Jerry Lauro, an investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, testifies he and Schreffler interviewed Sandusky, and that Sandusky admits showering naked with Victim 6, admits to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admits that it was wrong.

The case is closed after then-Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar decides there will be no criminal charge.

June 1999: Sandusky retires from Penn State but still holds emeritus status.

Dec. 28, 1999: Victim 4 is listed, along with Sandusky's wife, as a member of Sandusky's family party for the 1999 Alamo Bowl.

Summer 2000: Boy known as Victim 3 meets Sandusky through The Second Mile when he is between seventh and eighth grade.

Fall 2000: A janitor named James Calhoun observes Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Football Building with a young boy -- known as Victim 8 -- pinned up against the wall and performing oral sex on the boy. He tells other janitorial staff immediately. Fellow Office of Physical Plant employee Ronald Petrosky cleans the showers at Lasch and sees Sandusky and the boy, who he describes as being between the ages of 11 and 13.

Calhoun tells other physical plant employees what he saw, including Jay Witherite, his immediate supervisor. Witherite tells him to whom he should report the incident. Calhoun was a temporary employee and never makes a report. Victim 8's identity is unknown.

March 1, 2002: A Penn State graduate assistant enters the locker room at the Lasch Football Building. In the showers, he sees a naked boy, known as Victim 2, whose age he estimates to be 10 years old, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant tells his father immediately.

March 2, 2002: In the morning, the graduate assistant calls coach Joe Paterno and goes to Paterno's home, where he reports what he has seen.

March 3, 2002: Paterno calls Tim Curley, Penn State athletic director, to his home the next day and reports a version of what the grad assistant had said.

March 2002: Later in the month the graduate assistant is called to a meeting with Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz. The grad assistant reports what he has seen and Curley and Schultz say they will look into it.

March 27, 2002 (approximate): The graduate assistant hears from Curley. He is told that Sandusky's locker room keys are taken away and that the incident has been reported to The Second Mile. The graduate assistant is never questioned by university police and no other entity conducts an investigation until the graduate assistant testifies in Grand Jury in December 2010.

2005-2006: Boy known as Victim 1 says that meets Sandusky through The Second Mile at age 11 or 12.

Spring 2007: During the 2007 track season, Sandusky begins spending time with Victim 1 weekly, having him stay overnight at his residence in College Township, Pa.

Spring 2008: Termination of contact with Victim 1 occurs when he is a freshman in a Clinton County high school. After the boy's mother calls the school to report sexual assault, Sandusky is barred from the school district attended by Victim 1 from that day forward and the matter is reported to authorities as mandated by law.

Early 2009: An investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general begins when a Clinton County, Pa. teen boy tells authorities that Sandusky has inappropriately touched him several times over a four-year period.

September 2010: Sandusky retires from day-to-day involvement with The Second Mile, saying he wants to spend more time with family and handle personal matters.

Nov. 5, 2011: Sandusky is arrested and released on $100,000 bail after being arraigned on 40 criminal counts.

Nov. 7, 2011: Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly says Paterno is not a target of the investigation into how the school handled the accusations. But she refuses to say the same for university President Graham Spanier. Curley and Schultz, who have stepped down from their positions, surrender on charges that they failed to alert police to complaints against Sandusky.

Nov. 8, 2011: Possible ninth victim of Sandusky contacts state police as calls for ouster of Paterno and Spanier grow in state and beyond. Penn State abruptly cancels Paterno's regular weekly press conference.

Nov. 9, 2011: Paterno announces he'll retire at the end of the season. Later in the evening, the Board of Trustees removes Paterno as head coach. Penn State President Graham Spanier is also let go.

Send Rae an e-mail.

Get e-mail notifications every time Rae's blog is updated.

This article was provided by You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.