guilty on 45 of the 48 counts of sexual abuse of young boys.
Famed football coach Jerry Sandusky stuck to his claim of innocence; his wife said she never saw or heard anything inappropriate. Other coaches testified that it was common practice for men and boys to shower together in the locker room. His lawyer claimed it was a grand conspiracy and said the prosecution had not produced any physical evidence.
But the moving testimony of the young men who were repeatedly sexually abused proved more convincing.
After the jury had already begun deliberations, the story broke that one of the Sanduskys adopted sons had also claimed to have been sexually abused by him. Like the others, he had been one of the underprivileged boys that Sandusky took under his wing in his Second Mile charity; but this one became a foster child and later was adopted by the Sanduskys. He had talked with the prosecutors and was willing to testify; but they did not call him as a witness, so it's possible they found his story not credible.
There are no heroes here. Even the young assistant coach, who reported seeing Sandusky raping a young boy in the shower, failed to act to stop it. He went home, confused, to talk to his father about what to do. And waited until the next day to inform the authorities at Penn State -- even then not notifying the police.
Those authorities at Penn State did not take action, except to forbid Sandusky from bringing boys from his Second Mile charity to the campus. In other words -- just don't do it in our back yard. Even though he had been accused before, and even though there was a secret file being kept on Sandusky -- even with that new accusation, they did not act.
Like the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, they were more concerned with protecting the adults than the children.
Not only did they not act, the school authorities engaged in a cover-up to protect the vaunted athletic program and its coaches. Ultimately the conver-up failed. It became public and the police began to investigate. Now, heads have rolled. The president of the university had to resign; legendary Coach Joe Panterno was fired in midseason and has since died of cancer. The Athletic Director was charged with perjury.
There are no heroes -- only victims and those who failed to protect the victims. Sexual abuse of young people, most especially by those they trust, can be a devastating psychological trauma that destroys lives. The boys or girls often blame themselves and experience deep shame along with a sense of having been betrayed and violated. Perhaps the most devastating aspects is the killing of trust and the undermining of self worth.
Justice has been done. But nobody should be happy about this. It will not wipe out the pain, the damage, the memories. But at least the boys, now men, have been heard and believed. That is a start.