Word is out that Penn State personnel first considered turning coach Jerry Sandusky over to the authorities when a graduate assistant caught him in the act. But then attempted to resolve the accusation internally.
(Former Athletic Director Tim) Curley allegedly writes: “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.”
The coach is dead. Like Cardinal Bevilacqua in eastern Pennsylvania. So it seems to be a bit convenient for the living if the deceased person take as much of the hit as possible.
On the other hand, I’m not surprised that people at the top are inclined to defend subordinates, especially if the abuse of the weak is out of direct sight. It can happen in a lot of ways, none of which are particularly moral or just. But they happen nonetheless.
Clergy and sports are subcultures of great insularity. So people defend their own against outside threats.
Addicts actively groom allies. If you’ve ever been a friend of an abuser, you might have gotten the drift. The best allies are at the top. Abusers who fail to charm their superiors just turn out to be creeps. But it’s hard for the big cheese’s friend to be called out as a creep.
Preying on children is so far beyond the imagination of some people, it’s just easier to imagine it’s all a big mistake and not go into dangerous territory.
I recognize the above three scenarios are not just, right, or logical. But they involve excuses I’ve heard and read about. I think leadership requires a vigilance not unlike that of a virtuous person who continually examines her or his own life.
For those of us on the outside, it remains important to be supportive of witnesses. It can be very difficult to do the right thing, especially when so many cultural and personal forces array against a person of conscience.