The Penn State Scandal has moved beyond sports news into the mainstream, and for very good reason. If you’ve been under a rock, here’s the short version: Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky has been accused of numerous counts of child molestation during his tenure at the university. Head coach and football demigod Joe Paterno has been implicated for not reporting the alleged crimes to the police. (LINK) Although no legal charges appear likely for the football legend, affectionately known as “Joe Pa,” it appears that his career will be ending in disgrace, and he’s retained a lawyer to fight the civil litigation which is sure to follow.
The good news is that the agencies responsible for taking action are doing so, and swiftly. Penn State University is cooperating fully. Sandusky is the subject of intense scrutiny by law enforcement, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent that the state can prove their case. His coaching career is over, and he will probably never set foot outside a jail for the rest of his life. Joe Paterno and Penn State University President Graham Spanier, who has not been charged with a crime, but who knew about the allegations and did not report them to police, have been fired.
For Sandusky, the crime was child molestation by a coach in a position of power. The moral turpitude also rests squarely on those who did nothing to further the cause of justice, and shielded the perpetrator. With swift and decisive action, the courts of both public opinion and University Regents have ruled: Child molesters and those who protect them are not to be tolerated in an institution as sacred as NCAA Sports.
If only we could say the Church had the same intestinal fortitude. In the continuing battle over allegations that the Catholic Church has been sheltering child molesters and even aiding them in evading criminal prosecution, the “good Christians” remain defiant. The UK Guardian reports a judge has ruled that bishops may be held accountable for the actions of priests under their watch in certain circumstances. This sets an important precedent to help bring justice to pedophiles and to provide restitution to victims. (LINK)
Despite protestations by the Church that they are “deeply concerned” with the problem of child molestation, the Holy See is not taking the high road, as Joe Paterno has done at Penn State. Instead of publicly owning up to their responsibility and stepping aside while justice is served, they will be appealing the decision and continuing to try to protect both their priests and material assets for as long as possible.
On this side of the pond, we see another example of a “good Christian” caught in a web of sex scandals. Presidential Candidate Herman Cain remains defiant after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct by numerous women. (LINK) While it is far from definitively proven that every allegation is true, it seems difficult to imagine that the entirety of the story is completely untrue. Nevertheless, Cain continues to affirm his total innocence while trying to tarnish the reputations of his accusers.
The irony here is that the NCAA — an organization rocked by numerous allegations of financial corruption in recent years — seems to have a more grounded moral compass than the Church and its leadership. Pressure from both without and within has been brought to bear on Penn State, and there will be a changing of the guard. Those who knowingly protected a child abuser will not have a career in sports, and that is the way it should be. Meanwhile, the G.O.P. and the Catholic Church continue to evade, obfuscate, and shift blame for the crimes committed within their ranks.