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The Times
  • Rev. Ed Schneider: Character and moral disaster at Penn State University

  • By now you have heard of the allegations of evil and treacherous behavior by Jerry Sandusky and top officials. Where is God in their reactions? Where does the lack of moral, ethical, spiritual and godly ramifications lie upon the general society?

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  • By now you have heard of the allegations of evil and treacherous behavior by Jerry Sandusky, the long-term coaching partner of Joe Paterno at Penn State who is being charged on dozens of counts of predatory sexual assault and abuse against eight underage boys.
    Without a doubt, this disaster is likely to grow in its scope of victims and the depths of its horrific consequences on the lives it has touched. To say these young boys have been terribly hurt; to say their families are forever damaged; to say the rest of their lives will be, in no small way, socially, culturally and psychologically defined by Sandusky's alleged acts of savage mental and physical rape; all this is still understating the effects of the circumstances.
    Now that I have said what I believe to be an honest and immediately appropriate reaction to such a series of evil acts of moral and character deprivation, my sense is the story has far deeper implications of guilt from three other individuals: Tim Curley, athletic director; Gary Schultz, the university's senior vice president for business and finance; and Ray Gricar, former district attorney.
    These three are going to be appropriately boiled in oil and then tarred and feathered and/or purged from any and all reputable societal connections for the rest of their lives. Why? Because of what they could have and should have done and freely decided not to do.
    In 1998, Sandusky was reportedly caught and confessed to showering in an inappropriate fashion with two children. For whatever unknown reason, Gricar decided not to prosecute. A mere seven years later, Gricar disappeared one day and was never found again. He is now presumed dead.
    In 2002, after Sandusky had been retired for three years, a graduate assistant allegedly witnessed the former defensive coordinator performing anal sex on a 10-year-old boy in the showers of Penn State's locker room. He immediately went and reported the deed to Joe Paterno, head coach. Coach Paterno immediately reported the witnessed assault to Curley, and then Curley reported it to Schultz.
    Do you understand the implication? Everyone involved reported it to someone else. In the meantime, unbelievably so, here is what did not happen:
    The graduate assistant did not act to save the child from further harm. The head coach did not call the police. Amazingly, Sandusky was still allowed access to the university grounds. Neither Curley nor Schultz called the police and, when later questioned by both police investigators and the grand jury, they reportedly lied about their contribution to the tangible devastation of scores of people's lives.
    What were they thinking when it wasn't obvious and appropriate –– much less reasonable –– to immediately act to stop the abuse? Why didn't they act to prevent it from happening again to another child? What has our society been brought to when far too many people are complicit in the furtherance of rape, molestation and psychological abuse of children?
    Page 2 of 3 - There are literally tens of thousands of child rapes and molestations occurring in the United States each year, many of them unreported to police. I certainly understand in those rare instances when someone is falsely accused of such horrible things how it can hinder the future response by others to accuse an adult of such deeds. The effect of this type of accusation toward an innocent adult is tragic and almost impossible to repair.
    However, when you are an actual witness to such events and have an eyewitness account of such remarkable clarity, the question needs to be shouted, "Why didn't you act to save that child?"     
    What was the graduate assistant thinking when he didn't immediately go over and throw Sandusky to the shower room floor, grab that child and save the boy? What was Paterno thinking when he didn't immediately, after he was secure with the witnesses information and the boy in tow, call the police and then get up and go over to his long-term friend and, with the help of a few large fellows from campus security, say, "What the hell are you doing?"
    What were Curley and Shultz thinking in regards to the protection of the child and the security of other children? The answer, of course, is they weren't thinking of the child at all. Their foundational concerns hinged upon the implications of scandal on the university, the incredibly wealthy boosters, future legal ramifications on the board of trustees and potential loss of endowment support along with the lowering of student enrollment. They were considering all the wrong things and never once thought of the right thing that matters most: protect that child!
    Just this morning, my soon-to-be 3-year-old son and I were walking along the sidewalk, and as we approached a puddle of water still remaining in one of the indentations of the concrete, I looked at my son, gently grabbed his hand, and said, "Let's step around the puddle." My son looked at me with those incredible big brown eyes of his and told me, "Stop, Daddy." I leaned over and asked what was wrong. He told me, "Daddy, jump water. Please."
    You know what I did, don't you? While looking in his face, I smiled, took his hand, and we both jumped right in the middle of the puddle. His innocence was too much to deny. His wanting to experience the joy of the simplest of life's experiences was uttermost in his mind. How could I refuse?
    These fools have purposefully, undeniably and in the most self-serving fashion significantly helped to take away the precious and divinely gifted innocence of children. They have reportedly perpetrated one of the most evil acts any human being can inflict upon another: taking the innate value of one person's life and tossing it aside as though it had no "divine" connection at all.  
    Page 3 of 3 - For this inaction, each of these people should pay a profound price of the loss of their freedom –– of this there is no doubt. However, a larger question arises: Where is God in their reactions? Where are the churches and their leadership and their very public expressions of righteous indignation toward these evil fools? Where does the lack of moral, ethical, spiritual and godly ramifications lie upon the general society? What allowed these people to actually think their actions and inactions were appropriate?
    Beloved, stop pretending authentic Christianity and God-centered environments aren't essential in the uplifting of American liberty and future cultural stability. We are fooling ourselves and giving credence to others who claim God doesn't matter and Jesus is irrelevant.
    The Rev. Ed Schneider is pastor of The Rock church of Oak Ridge, Tenn.

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