By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Coach told them to stop, in no uncertain terms. He stood in front of them and said they were hurting the cause.
Ironically, they won’t obey Coach. They have a darkened ghost to protect instead, no matter the damage they may do to the football team they claim to adore.
Enough with the legal frivolities, they were instructed. Their desperate attempts to recast history with grandiose conspiracy theories and courtroom sideshows have become a hindrance rather than a help.
Bill O’Brien held a closed-door meeting with the trustees of Penn State, directing some of his message in clear terms to the growing faction obsessed with finding any way possible to create some alternate reality in which Joe Paterno didn’t spend years facilitating the rape of children.
The leader of that bloc reportedly left the room shaking his head. He and other trustees continue to push their quixotic cause, undeterred by such direct, pragmatic advice and dismissive of the mounting evidence that makes their unfortunate efforts more wrong by the day.
Paterno’s sworn testimony has been sufficient to convince normal people that he knowingly chose to allow a predator the use of the Penn State football program to groom and attack victims for at least a decade.
For those unable to process such a fact without losing an astonishingly large portion of their own identity, the testimony was a call to run deep into rabbit holes, chasing implausibilities and embracing charlatans to feed their restorative fantasies. They are still down there, where somewhere the statue still stands.
And now there is more from Paterno, further confirmation of his awareness. Sane people will not need it, and the fringes will find twisted ways to rationalize it, but it damns him further.
Paterno, with his lawyer present, was interviewed by investigators mere weeks before Jerry Sandusky was arrested. Deadspin.com posted the transcript, and it includes more than the “sexual nature” comment that previously confirmed Paterno was mindful that a violent crime against a child had occurred in his building.
The interview begins with agent Anthony Sassano asking Paterno “Did Mike McQueary, some years ago, come to you, report to you an incident that he observed in the shower between Jerry Sandusky and another individual most likely a young boy?”
Among the statements from Paterno:
“Mike McQueary came in and said he was in the shower and that Jerry Sandusky was in the shower with another person, a younger, how young I don’t know and Mike never mentioned it, that there was some inappropriate sexual activity going on.”
“I think as I recall, he said something about touching…whatever you want to call them, privates, whatever it is.”
“Well yea, I guess you’d call it sexual.”
“…there was inappropriate action…it was something we’d probably take, uh, probably call sexual.”
“And he said they were doing things that, ya know, and I never got in to know hey what did he do, did he do this, did he do that, but obviously there was a sexual kind of activity.”
Regarding his level of trust in the veracity of McQueary, Paterno was steadfast, saying that he believed him “absolutely.” “It was legitimate,” he told Sassano, repeating, “It was legitimate.”
And Sandusky went nowhere, continuing to enjoy unfettered access to Penn State football, and the continuing supply of victims provided by the Second Mile charity he created for that purpose.
Perhaps the worst is contained in Paterno’s response when questioned about the ensuing follow-up to McQueary’s report.
“I didn’t feel it was my responsibility to make any kind of a decision as to what to do with him.”
And “I had other things to do.”
Beyond the perjury trials of Paterno’s nominal superiors, and independent of the reaction to the Freeh Report and the painful schism that remains in the university community, it is time for one aspect of the still-reverberating fallout from the Penn State scandal to stop.
The name of Joe Paterno is beyond redemption.
No lawsuit can alter that truth, no shading of facts can rewind it, and no embittered chorus of deluded former football players can shout it down.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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