Posted by: Scott Groves | January 22, 2012

I’m somewhat glad Joe Paterno has died

This sounds harsh and callous, but I’m glad Joe Paterno has died.  I don’t say that because I think he ‘deserves’ it.  I’m not one of the millions of sports fan, reporters or casual observers who rushed to blame him for the horrific abuse allegedly committed by one of his assistance.

I’m glad Joe has passed away so as he doesn’t have to deal with the circus event coming to University Park Pennsylvania.  The trial of Joe’s former assistant Jerry Sandusky, the public investigation into the football program and the inevitable civil suite that will come from these charges should reveal who was at fault for these horrible abuses.  But after 50 years of service to his community, Penn State and the football team I’m glad Joe doesn’t have to see the program he built be ripped apart.

I find myself trying to keep an open-mind about the trial, the presumed innocence of the accused as required by our constitution and how this case with effect Joe Paterno’s legacy.  I’m saddened by these events and feel for the victims.  I hope they get their day in court and that the justice system helps penalizes anyone who committed a crime.

However, until found guilty, I also find myself sympathizing with the accused.  Sexual abuse cases are tricky; more so when the victim is a child or the accused is a public figures.  I can’t think of a crime, other than maybe a DUI, where the accusation of the crime is almost as damning as the conviction.

Only two people know for certain what happened in that hotel between Mike Tyson and his under-age accuser, the bathroom stall where Roethlisberger allegedly assaulted a young co-ed, the bedroom where Michael Jackson was said to have molested a young boy, or the hotel room where Kobe was accused of raping a hotel employee.  Yet in each-case there were serious questions about the reliability of the accuser and the details of the alleged crime.

For the accused though, it doesn’t matter.   Suspicion of a sex crime can be just as damaging as a conviction.  Sponsorships are lost, legacies tarnished, public trust evaporated and future business contracts cancelled.

If it all comes out in the trial that Joe Paterno did little or nothing wrong.  If he reported the crimes which he heard about second-hand and it’s the system that failed, I’ll be glad he died prior to having to witness the courtroom circus that is coming to his beloved town.

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