Last night I watched Bob Costas interview former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky did his interview over the phone with his lawyer present in the NBC studio.
It seems as if decades of not asking the hard questions during interviews with steroid enhanced cheaters in sport has toughened Costas up…he asked the hard questions, follow-up questions, and even confronted Sandusky once the man answered questions. Sad to say, but journalism has deteriorated to the point that those basic tasks are more the exception to the rule.
Sandusky denied all of the allegations made against him.
That’s not surprising. What is surprising is that he would do so, after such an extended silence, on national television…knowing that anything and everything he said would be chewed within an inch of its life and possibly even used in the case against him.
Some may interpret that as the act of an innocent person…
…but I was reminded of a television show I watched years ago that featured a young woman, whose abuse was horrifically well documented by medical and eye witness testimony, as she confronted the man who abused her as a child on hidden tape. The man denied everything…told her she imagined or was brainwashed or misinterpreted his actions. It was stunning to see…much like a rapist claiming that his victim asked for it or an abusive partner demanding an apology for being “forced” into beating another human being.
Either way, Sandusky will have his day in court. His interview sheds light on what his defense will be…and it is that which should turn the stomach of everyone involved in not taking this case to the police immediately.
Sandusky will likely argue that the victims are mistaken…maybe even that they have been brainwashed…but most definitely that they misinterpreted his actions. His lawyer or lawyers will likely make the case that the adult witnesses were uncomfortable with what he calls “horseplay” but that doesn’t make it a crime. Team Sandusky will take the court-based field and say that Jerry is guilty of making bad decisions and showering with young boys…nothing else.
And all of that…every smidge of it…will have been enabled by the amount of time that has passed between grown people witnessing and grown people being forced to finally report allegations of child sex abuse to the police.
Because of that, Penn State will be dragged through this dung over and over again so that the prosecution can try to explain the delays, the lack of follow-up, the lack of outraged disgust and swift action that should come from adults having witnessed what folks said they witnessed.
That is nothing compared to the harsh reality that not taking swift action probably led to further abuse. Just look at the multiple cases of child abuse across decades within the Catholic Church. Or look toward the alarmingly similar scandal unfolding over at The Citadel…where officials knew about a predator and did not take action, where that predator then went on to abuse more children…
…and where those school officials are now left offering apologies.
One simple statement is running on a loop through my mind - you contact the police…you contact the police…you contact the police…you contact the damned police.