EDITORIAL: One positive from Sandusky scandal

The York Dispatch
  • Another chapter closes on the Penn State/Sandusky child sex abuse case.
  • Advocates are making sure one part of the story continues to be told.

The latest chapter in the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal closed recently with two top administrators’ guilty pleas to misdemeanor child endangerment  and the conviction of former university president Graham Spanier on the same charge.

Kiana Jackson-Brown, left, lights her candle at the sixth annual candlelight vigil for child abuse awareness, held by the Penn State York Council on Family Relations Thursday, March 30, 2017, outside of the Main Classroom Building at Penn State York in Spring Garden Township. Amanda J. Cain photo

The resolutions of the long-running cases came more than five years after Jerry Sandusky was arrested in 2011 and six years after the Nittany Lions' assistant football coach was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.

Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years behind bars.

The administrators’ charges related to how Spanier, former university vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley handled a complaint by coaching assistant Mike McQueary, who reported seeing Sandusky molesting a boy in a team shower in 2001.

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At least four victims at Sandusky’s trial said they were molested after 2001.

The convictions show the men could have done more to protect innocent children from a serial pedophile in their midst.

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To date, the scandal has cost to the school at least $237 million, including a recent $12 million verdict in the whistleblower and defamation case brought by McQueary, according to a recent Associated Press account.

And  while the recent convictions represent  the end of a chapter, the story continues.

The attorney for Spanier, who was acquitted of conspiracy and a second child endangerment count, has promised an appeal of his conviction.

Spanier  is suing the university and former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his law firm, which produced a report on behalf of Penn State that was critical of the former university president’s handling of the initial allegations.

More importantly, the everyday people who make up Penn State — local students, educators and community members — are determined not to close the book on Sandusky’s victims and other children who have been victimized or are at risk.

The sixth “Lest We Forget” candlelight vigil for child-abuse victims was held by the Council on Family Relations and multicultural clubs Thursday at the Penn State York campus.

Council president Shawnee Hostetter said the  event was initially planned as a one-time remembrance ceremony  in 2011, before the Sandusky case forever changed the university.

“After that, it felt more appropriate to keep doing it,” she said.

At one point during the vigil, attendees formed a circle and recited three pledges:

“To all the victims of abuse, male and female, adult and child, known and unknown,” the audience said in unison, “I pledge to educate myself about the realities of child abuse.”

“I pledge to give voice and report any and all suspicions.”

“I pledge to cast a light in the darkness by doing the right things the first time — every time.”

This reaction — a determination to protect the vulnerable and prevent of repeat of the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal — is the one positive to come from the Sandusky case.

And it’s a story we hope continues to be told.