By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) It’s not enough to point out mere tone-deafness in Penn State’s decision to honor Joe Paterno before and during its game Saturday. It’s easy for anyone outside of the hive of insanity in central Pennsylvania to see it for what it is — the cruel re-victimization of those whose lives were ruined by Jerry Sandusky while Paterno chose do do nothing for decades, despite his awareness of the ongoing violent crimes against children on campus, facilitated by his football program.
The same school that has paid out nearly $100 million to compensate victims now wants to tear open their wounds and torture them again.
Jared Rosenblatt is a former senior district attorney in New York who now teaches law at Drexel University. In an op-ed in Friday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, he brings the hammer down on Penn State’s leadership for continuing to perpetuate a dangerous culture at the school.
“Penn State’s continual celebration of its disgraced football coach encourages victims of sexual abuse to remain silent,” he wrote. “Two of the most common reasons why victims do not disclose their abuse is fear of not being believed and how the system will treat them. Penn State’s commemoration of Paterno promotes the perception that colleges and universities provide preferential treatment to athletics, rather than victims in sexual-abuse investigations.”
The conclusion being, keep your children as far away from this awful place as possible.
Rosenblatt’s record of bringing more than 50 trials to verdict in the Queens DA office includes convictions for sexual assaults of both adults and children. He understands well the kind of environment that fosters the ongoing devaluation of victims of such crimes, and he’s seeing it now.
“Paterno had an opportunity to protect young victims of sexual abuse, and instead chose football,” Rosenblatt wrote. “As a result of his choice not to involve law enforcement, children were sexually abused. Yet today, Penn State wants you to remember the national championships and ignore the painful memories the abused families will never forget.”
The Big Ten Conference shouldn’t sit idly and silently as one of its member institutions acts in such a despicable manner, as it reflects on it as well. At the very least, something should be said publicly that might help disinfect Happy Valley or dissuade the sick school leaders from going ahead with this insulting revisionist pageantry.
Rosenblatt pulled no punches in decrying just how actively harmful this tribute can be and why it shouldn’t happen.
“In announcing it’s tribute to Paterno, the university loudly declared that college football is more important to its institution than encouraging victims of sexual abuse to report their crimes to law enforcement,” Rosenblatt wrote. “As a university, it declared football is more important than the victims who suffered under the watch of it’s beloved coach and, more importantly, all victims who remain silent about the sexual abuse they have suffered.
“The announcement to commemorate Paterno, instead of placing something permanent outside the football stadium to honor the victims of sexual abuse, sets a dangerous standard for education and collegiate athletics. Penn State, it’s not too late to do something about this.”