Nebraskan Columnist Admits His Town ‘Sorta Did A JoePa’
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(WSCR) As sunlight begins to expose all that surrounds Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, one Nebraskan columnist apparently has something he wants to get off his chest.
Les Mann, a longtime columnist for the Daily News in Norfolk, a town of 24,000 in northeast Nebraska, recently wrote a column in which he describes how he, along with the help of many prominent Norfolk individuals, also covered up child sex-abuse allegations at a local high school in the 1980s.
In the 1980s, I got a call out of the blue from an officious newspaper reporter in Wyoming.
He started asking questions about a girls’ basketball coach who had been employed in the local public school a couple of years earlier. A chill went up my spine because I suspected what was coming.
“Were there any reports of him sexually abusing his players while he was there?” the reporter asked.
“Um, nothing official,” I replied, “Why, is he in trouble . . . there (I almost said ‘again’)?”
“So there were no stories in your paper about why he left . . .”
I shared with him the “rumors,” which we both knew were now more fact than that. We both also knew if they had been reported it might have saved another child from harm.
But it was a different time and the excuses for looking the other way were legion. The school board knew. The superintendent knew. The county attorney had to know because he or his partner was the school attorney, too. The whole town knew. Certainly the newspaper and sports editors knew.
But we all sorta did a JoePa.
But let’s be careful about the harsh words we use to condemn those who have been found guilty of covering up the deeds of sexual predators in the past.
We might just end up condemning ourselves as well.