Commentary: Victims in Sandusky case displayed uncommon bravery
Columnist Derrell Connor weighs in on the Jerry Sandusky trial
By Derrell Connor
Special To Channel 3000
After tormenting at least 10 boys and possibly untold others for decades, Jerry Sandusky finally gets to pay for the pain and agony that he caused these now young adults and their families.
Using The Second Mile, an organization that was founded by Sandusky to help troubled youth as an opportunity to prey on them, Sandusky revealed himself to be the worst kind of man, one that would deliberately and selfishly steal the innocence of children to satisfy his own perverted desires.
But first, there had to be a trial. Sandusky simply couldn’t bring himself to admit guilt and skip the formalities. No, he had to plead not guilty, thus forcing these young men to have to take the stand and testify and relive what had been done to them by this evil, sick man. And testify they did, one by one, giving detailed accounts of how Sandusky, who called himself the “tickle monster” would befriend them, touch them inappropriately to gauge their reactions, take showers with them and have sex with them in the basement of his home while his wife was upstairs. And when the team traveled to bowl games, the former Penn State defensive coordinator often took a young boy along, raping him in hotel rooms.
Sandusky didn’t even have the courage to face his accusers at trial, deciding at the last minute not to testify on the advice of his attorneys. Maybe that decision had something to do with the fact that Matt Sandusky, Jerry’s adopted son, came forward and spoke about his own abuse at the hands of his father. Maybe it was because Sandusky’s defense team felt that the deck was stacked against him, and it served no purpose for him to testify. Or maybe he was just plain scared. We’ll probably never know, but what we do know is that these young men had the strength and resolve to face their monster and describe what he did to them, with an entire nation paying attention.
Growing up as a Penn State football fan, I sometimes wondered why a coach who has played a key role in two national championships never seemed to be interested in a head coaching job, or was never highly sought after for one. Could it be that there were whispers around college football about Sandusky for years? Or was it Sandusky himself that scoffed at offers, preferring to stay at Penn State and The Second Mile, where he had the perfect set up to befriend and later abuse young boys?
Over the next several months there will continue to be questions asked about who knew what, when did they know and, most importantly, what did they do about it. The accounts of former assistant coach Mike McQueary and former head coach Joe Paterno have been well documented, but what about other school officials? How far and deep does the cover up go? There are currently several investigations under way, with a plethora of civil suits forthcoming against Penn State University I’m sure.
As for these young men, their bravery can never be understated. Coming forward with stories of abuse is an extremely difficult thing to do, especially when it’s in the public eye. I hope that these 10 young men, and others who step forward in the future, get the help they need.
In about 90 days, Sandusky will be sentenced. Prior to that, there will be an opportunity to confront him one last time. Let’s hope that everyone involved will get some much-needed closure, and take comfort in the fact that Jerry Sandusky is going to prison.