The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

On Joe Paterno, #409, the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal and sexual consent…

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Please note the title. This is the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal not the Penn State sex scandal.

So last Friday the NCAA reached agreement with Senator Jake Corman on his litigation with the association that saw changes to the penalties levied against Penn State university. The headline change to these sanctions is the restoration of all wins by the football team between 1998 and 2011. This means that Tom Bradley now gets credit for his win at Ohio State in 2011 and that Joe Paterno gets credit for his 111 wins between 1998 and 2011 and in turn once more becomes the all-time leader in division one wins for a coach with 409.

This has caused two rather strong reactions from people. Those who think that the NCAA originally overstepped their authority when they originally hit the university with unprecedented sanctions following the Freeh Report and those who believe that it just shows that Penn State still doesn’t get it. The fact the litigation wasn’t pushed through by the university but by a senator doesn’t seem that important to these people and lets be honest here, this isn’t an issue where facts are the top determining factor on your opinion, this is all about your gut reaction.

One such person is former Penn State alum Roxanne Jones who wrote an op-ed for CNN entitled Penn State still doesn’t get it. In it she shows that she doesn’t get it (but she is the author who says that she has taught her kid to get a woman to text him before sex saying she agrees to have sex with him because that is evidence that she consented to sex, not that a woman is ever free to change her mind but still. You think I’m making that last thing up? Think again…

Never have sex with a girl unless she’s sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it’s a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another — even if you never plan on hooking up again.

So yeah, interesting woman. The whole consent issue is a legitimate one but a text message proves nothing. The woman can always change her mind and what is to stop the rapist taking her phone and texting his phone about consent? Still that isn’t what I’m really writing about today but I just wanted to show context of this authors previous work. Also sending her kid to university with 300 condoms? She must think her kid is a freaking stud. If I’d been sent to uni with 300 condoms…I’d still have 300 (or I’d have sold them off cheap to those who were in fact getting some)

Back to the piece from yesterday, ‘The NCAA had reached beyond its authority in punishing Penn State, they argued,’ she wrote. ‘In other words, their lawsuit had nothing to do with the boys who were raped or abused by Sandusky. Correct but still that isn’t the point of the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed because an authority overstepped their boundaries and had no legal grounds to do what they did. ‘The NCAA caved,’ she decries. No Roxanne, they didn’t cave, they knew they were about to lose in court because they knew they had no legal grounds to do what they did. This is the United States of America, this is a litigation culture so when you do something that you have no legal grounds to do then expect to lose in court.

This isn’t about restoring Joe Paterno’s wins. They should never have been taken away in the first place because doing that does nothing for the victims of the crime does it? The NCAA has its laws and they have punishments for breaking those laws. Penn State did not break any of these rules. One man – a former employee at Penn State – did some unspeakable crimes, at least one of which occurred on the Penn State campus. That we know.

Do you know what else we know? That man is going to spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs. You see the issues here aren’t about NCAA by-laws, they are about criminal laws and therefore he went to criminal court. Three other men, all university officials have had charges filed against them regarding a potential cover-up but none of them have gone to trial yet. Again they face criminal proceedings, not civil actions or NCAA sanctions because the laws they are charged with breaking are criminal ones.

Anyone who knows anything about civil law knew that the sanctions would get reduced and that the wins would eventually be restored. You can’t punish people for things that aren’t governed by your rules and regulations. It is a bit like a utility company deciding that you’ve used too much energy and are therefore cutting off your supply even if you’ve paid your bill on time. They have just decided to punish you because they want to.

The sanctions were originally levied in the mist of more public shock and outrage than I have seen in a long time. The reporting at the time was reactionary and poor. This is part of the media culture that we live in nowadays. Journalism isn’t about being right, fair and balanced. Instead journalism is about being fastest, being loudest and being the most extreme in terms of reporting. That is a detriment to society but is sadly an indication of where we are.

I don’t know the extent of any cover-up at Penn State and do you know what, nor does Roxanne Jones. Three men are facing charges and we’ll start to get further towards the truth when they face trial. There is still another lawsuit pending by the Paterno family and they want everything to come out wherever that trail leads. Coach Paterno’s legacy will forever be tarnished by what his former defensive coordinator did after he had left his job.

Joe Paterno was never linked to what this monster did, only one person committed unspeakable acts against children and that man was Jerry Sandusky. He was never a suspect in the investigation that led to charges being filed against three university officials, in fact the investigators are on record with saying Coach Paterno followed the law and was a forthcoming witness.

What we all want to see if the truth come out and that best practices are put in place to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again. When something horrific happens then what you want to do afterwards is to have those who committed illegal acts punished within the scope of the law. You want the truth to come out. You want those who were wronged to feel some justice. You want the cracks filled up to ensure that such a scandal cannot happen again and you want the issues highlighted so everyone is more aware of sexual acts against minors and are more attune to the warning signs.

Stripping Penn State of wins, scholarships, bowl games and bowl revenue does nothing to achieve any of those goals. This is why doing it was a show to make the NCAA feel better because the public wanted someone to pay. The fact Jerry Sandusky is in jail is a secondary story because that doesn’t fill column inches. That is such a depressing line to write but it is also true. The NCAA had no legal basis to levy those sanctions and those sanctions also do nothing for the kids who were the victims of this monster. The fact the huge $60million fine is going to help victims of this monster and other similar monsters is something that helps, nothing else does.

A man rots in jail, another three face charges and potential jail time. The whole issue is now front and centre and hopefully lessons will be learned not just in Pennsylvania but all around the US and beyond. I hope the kids who were his victims can find as much peace as possible and if the three men charged were in fact part of a cover-up then I hope they get that justice, they’ve already got some from the fact that Sandusky will never be a free man again.

The fact Joe Paterno now has 409 wins in the record books changes nothing. He recorded those wins within the boundaries of the laws of the NCAA and the players who played those games did not do anything wrong to have their wins vacated. No player who played was ineligible. No coach who coached was ineligible. I’m glad that coach Paterno has his wins back because they never should have been taken away in the first place. Punishing him, his players and his coaches for acts they didn’t do isn’t right. I know the crimes against those kids weren’t right either but two wrongs do not make a right.

Roxanne Jones says that Penn State still don’t get it. I think that she doesn’t get that in the country she lives in, just like the rest of the world, you can’t punish someone or an organisation when they haven’t done anything against your rules and regulations. Those wins were always coming back and anyone with an ounce of legal knowledge knows that. I think her argument is that Penn State should have curled up and allowed the NCAA to do whatever they wanted to them because nothing they could do could be worse than what happened to those kids. That isn’t how the world works. This isn’t an easy case because of the sensitive nature but leave the punishment to the criminal courts because if any laws were broken, that is where the punishment should come from. The NCAA had no power to do what they did and just because they were sailing on a wave of public opinion doesn’t make it right, in fact quite the opposite.

Jerry Sandusky was and is an evil man. Three other people may well be criminals. Everything else isn’t clear and until we know the full story we won’t know the full truth. I hope the Paterno lawsuit gets everything out in the open and then everyone can digest all the information. Most of all I hope that the victims find as much peace as possible and that this incident, no matter how ugly, helps stop further cildren from being victims to evil men like Jerry Sandusky.

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Written by neilmonnery

January 19th, 2015 at 2:52 am

Posted in American Sport,News

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