Paterno Is Out, But Tragedy Lingers

Joe Paterno is out at Penn State, informed by the board of regents that “you can’t quit, you’re fired.” So is the university president, meaning that the child-molestation scandal has claimed the school’s president, athletic director, iconic football coach, and an assistant president. Wow!

Not that I disagree. Paterno’s sins of omission in failing to do more to halt Jerry Sandusky’s pattern of abuse were egregious. I wrote about that for Wednesday’s paper, talking to Camas’ Curt Warner to measure the feelings of the Penn State community. But, wow!

And while the past few days have focused on what Paterno knew and when he knew it, the fact is that this shouldn’t be about Joe Paterno; it should be about the victims. The list of accusations against Sandusky are positively sickening, and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a parent right now of somebody who had contact with him over the years.

Whether or not your child was abused, you would wonder. Just think how many kids went through Sandusky’s program over the decades and later had problems growing up, and now these revelations make the light bulb go off over the parents’ heads. As a parent you would just feel sick. You care so much for your kids, and you do everything in your power to protect them, and still the world can be a dangerous place.

It’s a tragedy. And while the saga of Joe Paterno has been compelling and riveting and newsworthy, it’s really only a secondary part of that tragedy.

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