The Sandusky trial, which is taking place in Pennsylvania, has featured the testimony of eight alleged victims, a Penn State football coach who says he witnessed abuse in the showers, two former janitors who relayed information that another janitor, now suffering from dementia, told them, and the friends and families of the alleged victims. Now, as the defense presents its case, the trial has featured character witnesses for Sandusky, his wife Dottie taking the stand, and information that may or may not prove that local cops led one of the alleged victim during questioning.
It is hard to write a column like this, write the word 'alleged' in front of the word victim. I have not been at the trial, I have not seen first hand what has gone on in that courtroom. But reading the articles of those that have been there, I cannot help but feel that Sandusky is guilty, that he is a monster that tortured kids and that he should go to prison for life. In my opinion, and in the court of public opinion, Jerry Sandusky is guilty.
That word, innocent, takes on new meaning in this case. Whether or not Sandusky committed the sexual crimes he is accused of, the things that he has admitted to doing were in no way innocent. Showering, 'horsing around' in the shower and getting into bed with young boys, especially young boys who are not your children, is not innocent behavior, it is weird and it is creepy. Whether or not Sandusky crossed the line from 'horsing around' to criminal behavior is a question the jury has to answer, but in my mind the behavior that he has admitted to really wasn't all that innocent either.
I think the biggest takeaway that I have gotten from reading all about this trial is how this abuse was allowed to happen.
Much has been written and discussed about how big time college sports has gotten completely out of control. The money thrown around, the emphasis on sports over school in a college setting, but most of all the pedestal that coaches and athletes get put on.
That was part of the problem in stopping Sandusky. How could people believe that Sandusky, Penn State coaching legend and founder of the charity Second Mile, possibly do anything to hurt young boys? It was an attitude some of the alleged victims faced when they tried to come forward about the abuse, Jerry couldn't possibly have done that, he has a 'heart of gold.'
Then there was the fact that Sandusky used his position at Penn State to take advantage of these young boys, offering trips to bowl games, time within the athletic facilities and just general advantages from their 'mentor' being a college football coach.
Let me make this clear, this is not just a Jerry Sandusky problem or a Penn State problem. This a college athletics problem. For too long have the coaches and the players at big time programs been treated as more that what they are, college students and the men charged with teaching them a game.
The Jerry Sandusky trial is expected to be handed over to the jury on Thursday afternoon. I guess we will find out if Sandusky is guilty in more than just the court of public opinion.