For endangering the welfare of a child, the former president, a senior vice president, and athletic director were sentenced by a Pennsylvania judge to a minimum of two months in prison, with varying additional confinement time among the three, fines, and probation for two years. A jury convicted the men of failing to report to law enforcement officials that they had received a report that former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, had molested a child in the shower. The three had offered a defense that they were not told that the episode was “overtly sexual.”
Hmmm. An assistant coach naked with a young boy in the football program’s showers should have at least raised a risk management issue and additional action. As a result of their inaction, Mr. Sandusky moved along assaulting other minor boys, and was convicted in 2012 of 65 counts of sexual abuse.
her Penn State casep — long before Judge Boccabella uttered the same phrase in handing down the sentences. To quote Judge Boccabella, “Why no one made a phone call to police is beyond me.”
The Barometer, having studied these cases for years understands why three bright people who have been called good people made such a decision. They framed the issue the way that they did because they existed in a culture that rewarded them for preserving Penn State’s football program and its reputation. They framed the issue within their sense of loyalty to an assistant coach and a desire to not cause trouble for Mr. Sandusky (their e-mails referred to their decision to just talk with him as the “humane” thing to do). The three men framed the issue as doing their job to protect Penn State and being noble(humane) in their treatment of a friend. Poor framing leads to really bad decisions, and this one was a doozy. Begin any decision with a basic question, “Is what we’re about to do legal?” If the answer is no, stop there! There just isn’t much room for conscientious objection when it comes to reporting statutes. If a child has been hurt, molested, or injured, you report. They did not, and thereby defeated the very purpose of child-reporting statutes — other children became victims.
Mr. Schultz said at his sentencing, “It sickens me to think that I might have played a part in children’s suffering.” Mr. Spanier said, “I deeply regret that I did not intervene far more carefully.” Truth be told, Mr. Spanier did not intervene at all. And Mr. Schultz didn’t just play a part — he enabled the molestation of young boys because he skirted his legal duty. Thus we end this tale of woe with 4 people in jail, victims sentenced to physical harm, emotional trauma, and a lifetime of psychological burdens, and a school that will carry some tarnish for decades to come. In the words of Shakespeare, “All are punished.”