The Long, Slow, Agonizing Path to Justice

 This post is dedicated to all the victims of Jerry Sandusky and their families. My thoughts, compassion, mercy and prayers are with you.

Those who have never experienced a serious injustice cannot comprehend what is like to be a victim waiting for justice to come about. Probably there is no greater frustration than to be a victim whose hands are tied.

One who has to sit back and watch as more people are victimized by an evil person who is hidden behind a facade of good. It is maddening. It is agonizing. Not only does the victim experience the helplessness of being victimized in the first place by this more powerful evil person, but then they experience the helplessness of being unable to bring the evil person to justice because of the overwhelming odds of being believed. I understand that situation in its entirety. I have lived it and am living it. The persons who victimized me have yet to be brought to justice. Thankfully in the case of sexual predator and serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky enough victims were able to unite against him and an investigation was launched which led to him being arrested and charged.

Sandusky was a former Penn State football player who began his coaching career at the University in 1969. As one of the victims was quoted as saying, “Sandusky was known to everyone as this pillar in the community, this outstanding, wonderful, friendly man.” In addition to having a long successful career there, Sandusky also founded a nonprofit in 1977 called “Second Mile” which was dedicated to “helping troubled boys.”

As is clear now, Sandusky used this organization as a means of gaining access to his victims and “grooming them.” Sandusky’s “alleged” crimes date back at least 15 years. In addition to his crime, bystanders at the University who either saw, or knew about his evil actions, stood by and did nothing. The University police investigated a report that Sandusky showered with a boy in 1998. The case was closed and no charges were filed. In 2000, a janitor sees Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy. He tells a co-worker, but no report is made. In 2002, Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant coach, sees Sandusky performing anal sex on a boy about 10 years old. He stops Sandusky and then tells head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno alerts the athletic director of Penn State Tim Curley and the senior vice president of finance, Gary Schultz. Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away, but no police report was filed. Finally in 2008, a parent of “victim 1” calls her son’s school, which alert authorities and an investigation is launched. In addition to resulting in Sandusky’s arrest, Penn State’s president, athletic director and senior vice president all step down; the latter two were arrested for perjury and failing to report a crime. Head coach Paterno was also fired after a long and distinguished career.

People of course are expressing shock. How could this happen they ask? I am not sure why we are so surprised at these events, considering the recent scandal and the scope and magnitude of the clergy abuse of young boys in the Catholic church.

Evil will always hide behind good whenever it can. We should never be shocked by that. That is the most pragmatic guise for its efforts. What is more shocking is that people knew for years about Sandusky and did nothing. Do we really believe that we can be a bystander of a crime and bear no responsibility for bringing that to justice? Each person involved in this case seemed to feel as long as they told their superior they had ‘done their duty’ and were off the hook. Was it really unclear to them that this was child abuse and that is a criminal offense? How did they go to bed at night knowing they were employing a man who was raping young boys? How does one live with oneself knowing that by not turning this guy in he further victimized countless children and ruined their lives? By their silence the bystanders came pretty close to being near accomplices. I feel incredible sadness for all the victims, but also incredible sadness that some of those might have been spared the victimization if just one person had the courage to do the right thing. I also understand what the parents were up against in trying to get people to listen and believe them in their complaints about the “revered football coach.”

No doubt Sandusky “needs help”, and I guess there are those out there with hearts big enough to work with such people. As for me, I have absolutely no compassion for Abusers of any type. This is not to say that I am a perfect person, or consider myself not to share the same category of “sinner” as abusers do. We are all sinners, and all do abusive things at time. By that I mean “little a” abusive. We are all capable of yelling at our kids, or speaking unkindly, or being rough in manner. We also are all capable of “big A” abuse as well, but thankfully most people do not engage in such atrocity. Some would disagree with me that “we are all capable” of that kind of evil. Yet I believe the depth of depravity of the human heart is such that I better consider my heart “capable” of anything in order to fight the evil in it effectively.

When you know the absolutely devastating affect abuse has in a person’s life, it is very difficult to have much sympathy for such evil people. I think of all the children that man lured to himself through his non-profit organization. These were children who trusted and looked up to him and thought that he was being kind to them because he was a good man. He used this very kindness to draw them to himself and then horrifically abuse them. It’s hard not to hate a man like that.

I hope that one lesson that will be learned from this is that if you know of someone who is being abused and you are a witness to that,either directly or indirectly, that you will have the courage to step forward. My prayer is that you will be an advocate for the victim, and that you will stand against evil by reporting the perpetrator.

Child abuse is against the law, and child abuse must be reported. Domestic and elder abuse is also against the law and must be reported. This is a non-negotiable. If a person tells you they are being abused, believe them, especially if it is a child. Don’t discredit their report because they are a child. Investigate the matter fully. It is the basic duty of every human being to stand for justice. We are to speak up for those who are poor, or oppressed, or do not ‘have a voice.’ Children cannot advocate for themselves in terms of abuse. They need others to believe them and stand up for them.

I just want to say that I am glad that Sandusky has been apprehended and that no more children can be abused by him. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. Will there be justice for these victims? Sandusky being sent to prison for life or even given the death sentence would not even begin to be justice when one considers that he ravaged the beauty of an eternal soul. Yet it is a start. For the victims Sandusky’s path to justice has been long, slow and agonizing. Now that his path has begun, I pray that their path to healing and peace may too.