This past weekend, I talked about the Penn State child sex abuse scandal that
surrounds the horrific and twisted actions of Jerry Sandusky, a "legendary" former Penn State Defensive Coordinator and one-time heir apparent to Head Coach Joe Paterno. A recent Grand Jury Presentment describes prolific, ongoing sexual abuse of boys by Sandusky, and an apparent cover-up by Penn State officials who largely looked the other way to protect Penn State’s image and their own jobs, and then lied about it to investigators.
Sandusky used his charity, "The Second Mile" to prey on young disadvantaged boys
between 1994 and 2009, according to the Presentment. In 1999, Sandusky "retired"
from full time coaching at Penn State after a mother alleged that Sandusky engaged in inappropriate behavior with her son in the Penn State University football lockerroom shower. The matter was investigated by campus police, but the Centre County district attorney decided not to press charges. Although he was officially "retired" from coaching at Penn State, Sandusky was able to keep his Penn State Faculty Emeritus status, locker room keys, parking privileges, 24 hour access to training facilities and locker rooms, an office at the Lasch Football Building on main campus, access to coaches meetings and special football tickets and passes. He also continued to run both his charity for underprivileged boys and football camps for boys, conducted at various locations, including Penn State Satellite campuses. He also
began volunteer football coaching at a local high school. The Grand Jury Presentment indicates that Sandusky used these activities and privileges to identify, attract, and isolate a stream of young male victims.
In 2002, another opportunity arose for officials to end Sandusky’s predatory
behavior when then 28 year old graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary witnessed
Sandusky raping a ten year old boy in the Penn State football locker room showers.
McQueary reported the incident to Head Coach Joe Paterno, who in turn told Athletic Director Tim Curley. Sandusky was subsequently banned from bringing "Second Mile" children onto the Penn State main campus by President Graham Spanier. Unfortunately, that’s as far as the administration and others aware of the rape went in dealing with this evil predator. McQueary did not stop the assault as it was occurring.
Neither Paterno nor McQueary, nor any other Penn State official, reported the
incident to police. And the administration continued to allow Sandusky to operate his summer camps at Satellite campuses. Sandusky was still regarded as a hero of Penn State and Penn State football and accorded all of the resulting privileges — accept that he was officially no longer allowed to bring "Second Mile" boys with him onto campus.
Sandusky’s picture remained on a mural of Penn State greats, and was even the
featured speaker at the 2007 commencement ceremony for Penn State’s College of
Health and Human Development. Talk about cruel irony! As a result of all of this, the predation and abuse continued.
Finally, after a two-year Grand Jury investigation (begun under then Attorney
General Tom Corbett who is now Governor of Pennsylvania), Sandusky’s terror was
finally exposed publicly, along with revelations that Penn State officials enabled Sandusky’s activities by failing to stop and covering up his predation.
Key leaders at Penn State including Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier failed to protect little boys, and ultimately, have caused significant damage to Penn State. It is an absolute tragedy that Joe Paterno and other University officials did not stop Sandusky’s evil behavior. Through their silence, they demonstrated that they were either breathtakingly incompetent or more concerned about their power and image than the safety and well being of innocent children. Perhaps they were both.
One of the obvious lessons we must learn from this series of events is that every leader must be accountable to others – every leader must be "under authority." As the popular proverb suggests, "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Paterno – along with many administrators and Penn State students – came to falsely believe that Paterno was Penn State. "Saint Joe" or "JoePa" as he was known could do no wrong and no one could force, or even ask Paterno to retire. Questioning Paterno or his cult-like image was clearly a sin in "Happy Valley."
But, Paterno’s near absolute power and narcissistic, self-indulgent beliefs led to his very tragic downfall. Paterno, now 84 years of age, could and should have
stepped aside years ago when his age and health began to restrict his ability to
coach. Had he done so, he would have cemented his position as one of the greatest coaches in college football history. Instead, Paterno maintained his title, power, and income far into his elderly years – virtually controlling the large, public institution of Penn State – while others did the real coaching. Many people believed that enabling "JoePa" to remain "Head Coach" was good for Penn State, that the institutional lie did not create any harm. But Paterno’s drive to maintain his power (including jobs for family members) and build his winning record left him either unable or unwilling to recognize and stop the sexual predation of Jerry Sandusky over at least two decades. Paterno could and should have retired many times over the past fifteen or twenty years, but he refused to step down, making it clear that he would leave Penn State only on his own terms.
Even after the Grand Jury Presentment was released about ten days ago, Paterno tried to remain in control, stating last Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the season. In a written statement last Wednesday he directed, "At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can." Fortunately, the board was no longer impressed by Paterno or his statement and promptly fired him a couple of hours later. One of the lessons of history is that arrogance like Paterno’s almost always leads to a tragic fall.
Late last Wednesday night, 3,000 Penn State students rioted in State College in
support of the fired Joe Paterno. It seems that the cult of personality had not yet been broken. Fortunately, last Friday 1,000 Penn State students marched in support of the victims of Sandusky’s abuse. We should all hope and pray that the victims can overcome the abuse they endured and that under new leadership Penn State will become a far more virtuous and transparent organization.
Steve Moore (Senior Economics Writer for the Wall Street Journal) joined me on air with some updates on the stalled Congressional Super Committee negotiations.
Although Steve thinks that a deal may still be reached, it is increasingly clear
that the majority of Democrats and President Obama would rather see the committee fail for political reasons. The Democrats simply do not want a deal to reduce the Federal Government’s massive budget deficits so they can attempt to blame Republicans for our struggling economy in the upcoming election.
I also talked with Frank Donatelli, Chairman of GOPAC, a conservative Republican
political organization, about Tuesday’s election results and what they mean for
Conservatives in 2012. Although Republican Governor John Kasich suffered an
important defeat in Ohio on Issue-2 (union and budget reforms), conservatives still won on other important issues in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and other important races in Virginia and Mississippi. Together, these victories point to the potential for further Republican gains in 2012. But in order for conservatives to be successful, we need to keep educating voters on the issues and what we need to do to enable our nation to thrive. We need to learn a lesson from the 1948 Presidential campaign. In that year, President Harry Truman tilted hard left, blaming America’s economic problems on business, corporations, and "the rich." Republicans were confident of victory and did not confront Truman’s challenge. The result was a narrow victory for Truman
and the Democrats. If we do nothing, like Republicans during the 1948 campaign, then like Harry Truman, President Obama could be re-elected. But if we continue to stand up like we have since early 2009, then Republicans will not only take back the White House, but will also take back the Senate and increase their majority in the House.
Caring about the future of America, let’s hope and pray that conservatives will win in 2012.
Glen Meakem is a successful technology entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and
conservative talk radio show host, who offers information and insights on how
individuals and our nation can be more successful. Glen’s unique perspective has
been shaped by his experiences as founder, chairman and CEO of the B2B internet
success Freemarkets Inc – which he founded in 1995, took public in 1999, and sold to Ariba in 2004. In 2005, Glen co-founded Meakem Becker Venture Capital, a firm that invests in early stage start up companies. Concerned about the liberal political agenda that has gripped the United States and his home state of Pennsylvania, Glen launched the radio program, "Glen Meakem on the Weekend" in 2008. Glen served as an officer in the United States Army Reserve and is a veteran of the First Gulf War. He also earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his MBA from Harvard Business School. For more information about Glen and his radio program, or to read his blog, please visit www.glenmeakem.com.
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