If there is one lesson to be learned in the child sex abuse case involving Jerry Sandusky, it is that all of us have a responsibility to report suspected child abuse.
The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach was found guilty in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Witnesses said Sandusky used the charitable organization he founded for troubled children as his personal hunting ground to find and groom boys to become his victims.
On Tuesday, Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison — a term that is tantamount to a life sentence, given his age.
Even amid the mountain of evidence against him, and his ultimate conviction, Sandusky remains defiant. On Tuesday he gave a rambling statement in which he denied the allegations and talked about his life in prison and the pain of being away from his family.
Eight of the boys he was found guilty of molesting testified at his trial, describing a range of abuse that included fondling, oral sex and anal intercourse. One of the prosecution's star witnesses, former graduate assistant Mike McQueary, testified that he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a locker room shower.
What was troubling during the trial was evidence that many people at Penn State had reason to suspect Sandusky of abuse, but nothing was done. The scandal brought devastation in State College that will take years to fully assess, as Sandusky's victims are pressing civil claims and a January trial is pending for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, two university administrators charged with failing to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lying to the grand jury that investigated him.
It also forever tainted Coach Joe Paterno’s legacy. The school’s board of trustees fired Paterno, the school's most famous figure and a man who won two national college football championships in the 1980s. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
It is the victims who are the ones most suffering from this horrendous abuse. Judge John Cleland called Sandusky abuse a betrayal of the 10 children involved. If more child abuse incidents are brought to light because of the Sandusky case, it will be at least a small comfort in a case that is tragic in every other way.