What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Child Advocate Attorney: Jerry Sandusky and Silence in the Face of Monsters

June 25th, 2012   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy, News & Events

By Gloria Fletcher, a Gainesville, Florida, child advocate attorney and criminal defense lawyer

The verdict is in: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is guilty of 45 of 48 counts of felonies and misdemeanors stemming from his years of child sexual assault. Now in his 60s, and facing a sentence of some 400 or more years, it’s likely Sandusky will die in prison.

But what about the rest of us? What verdict should be found and sentence be imposed upon a society that habitually looks the other way when children – our most vulnerable citizens – are assaulted, abused, corrupted, endangered or otherwise neglected?

The victims – 10 in the indictment, but apparently more in reality – are left to spend the rest of their lives dealing with the sordid aftermath of the hell Sandusky wrought upon them. To be sure, some may find a sense of salvation, vindication – if not closure – with the verdict. But this remains their own life sentence.

It should be ours, too.

This case revealed the vital importance of paying close attention to what we see or hear. If it seems wrong, look more closely. If we know – really know – it’s wrong, we have to take action. In the case of former assistant football coach Mike McQueary, who testified that he saw Sandusky in a shower with a young boy, it wasn’t enough to report it to his superiors. He should have followed through on his report to them. When their feet dragged, he should have reported it to the police.

It was a noble gesture on McQueary’s part to report the assault to Penn State officials. He stood to lose his job and career. But it was a horrible failure on his – and the school’s – part to not escalate an investigation into the matter.

What’s the message from the Sandusky verdict? What lesson should we learn?

– Pay attention.

– Listen to the children when they speak of such horrors – even, especially, if the allegations involved people of status or importance.

– Report suspected wrong-doings. If those we report these actions to don’t take action of their own, ratchet up the alarm.

We must set aside fear of reprisal and what could happen to us. We must stand up for the kids.

More importantly, we must realize that anyone can be a monster, a perpetrator, a criminal – no matter the station of their lives or career or their purported good deeds. Sandusky ran an organization for at-risk kids? He used it to lure his prey. Anyone can be a victim; anyone, too, can be a perpetrator – even those we least suspect.

Regardless of whether he, like his family, is in denial about the crimes he now stands guilty of committing, Sandusky – apparently on suicide watch – has his own hell to live through for the rest of his life.

The true cruelty of this whole, sad episode is that families, grown men and children will continue to be torn apart by the actions of Jerry Sandusky.

Let’s not create our own hell by closing our eyes and being silent in the future. Let this case be the turning point for us as a nation to look, see and report child abuse and ensure that those who abuse our children are dealt with quickly and appropriately. Let’s end this hell for so many.

Leave a Reply