The audacity and selfishness of people amazes me. Leaves me feeling like I am on the wrong end of a champion prize fight: breathless, beaten and without the capacity to get up. Broken. In my humble opinion I believe you can do what you want to yourself; behave as badly, recklessly and without any measure of morality so long as your stupidity only affects you. There are not many possibilities in life to only damage yourself because we are all connected to some one. Some thing. We all have an obligation to protect each other, from ourselves and from the ubiquitous monster under the bed. Right? The world is going to hell in a fiery diseased hand basket but it does seem possible to continue to protect our humanity on the long ride down. I thought. After all of the unimaginable violent levels of hell I have personally ran through , I still had a little hope that good could prevail. That was broken this week as the Penn State news flashed across the t.v. Maybe it was too close to home. Maybe it was that “just one more” that tipped my justice scales to set them all on fire. Probably both.
If you haven’t heard what it is that literally made me throw up – here it is in summary. Long time defensive coach Jerry Sandusky, the man credited for making Penn State known as Line Backer U, was arrested for sexually assaulted 8 young boys and then handed 40 counts (21 of them felonies) of sexual abuse from a grand jury. Fourty. The assaults were years ago and should have been immediately reported by a grad student who actually walked into the Penn State football locker room and witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy. The grad student, Mike McQueary, told the head coach (Joe Paterno) who in turn told a Senior V.P. (Gary Schultz). And it ended there. No one called the police. No one helped that little boy. Do you know why? Because McQueary and Paterno only had to report it to Schultz; and only he was legally obligated to report it to police. Because they didn’t have to. There were wide-spread rumors on campus about Sandusky raping little boys to boot and yet no one intervened! In the mean time, that 10-year-old boy and 7 others continued to be brutalized in the name of Penn State continuing its storied football legacy and the school retaining its virgin white reputation. Can you imagine that 10-year-old boys disbelief that a trusted adult was violating him so brutally and then knowing another adult saw it happen and yet no one saved him? I can.
I don’t share this with you in order for a bunch of “I’m sorries” to rain down. I feel like the only way I can communicate my true disgust with this story is to tell you my own. You’re going to be uncomfortable. So am I. You might find yourself holding your breath in hopes a big punch line or gotcha will be in the next line. It won’t. I think people need to know what it is to be those little boys, to be any kid, who is left for spiritual dead like that little boy in the Penn State locker room was.
I was seven. My mom had a friend named Bob who liked to have me over to stay the night, to be a nice person at first and baby sit for her. It wasn’t long before he insisted on my sleeping with him in his bed. The first night he raped me, I remember knowing I did not want to go upstairs, I knew something bad was going to happen to me and my instinct was to run. I pleaded with him to let me stay down stairs with the other kids that were there. I cried and begged the other kids to let me stay with them- to save me. They were as helpless as I was. I know now why they all said nothing. It was because they had all experienced what I was about to and didn’t want to be next. I don’t blame them- what could a bunch of young kids do anyway. We were out in the country, nowhere to go and cell phones were only available on Saturday mornings on The Jetsons. He pulled me up the stairs by my arm and by my hair because my legs refused to climb. Once in his room he forced me to drink warm milk and swallow a pill. I threw it up and he answered with a swift and hard slap across my face. Grabbing me by the back of my neck, he made me eat what I couldn’t swallow followed by a glass of water and another pill. I don’t know what that pill was but I don’t remember anything after being thrown on the bed and raped by that man. The next morning I was bruised, bleeding and crying uncontrollably. I remember us all eating cereal and no one would look at me. This happened over and over. He would pick me up with other kids and we would all silently hope it wasn’t our turn this time. His daughter came to our apartment one day and told my mom and step dad what was going on- that he had done the same to her. She was one of those kids not looking at me as we silently ate our cereal every morning after. I remember every detail of the next night Bob came to pick me up. “The Onion Field” was on t.v. I recall what every one had on and every detail down to the butterscotch candy in the green glass bowl on the coffee table. I told my mom I didn’t want to go. I cried. They made me go- even after Bob’s own daughter told my mom and step dad what he was doing- they made me go. I was stunned and could not wrap my seven-year old mind and heart around what was happening. Was this permission for him to continue to rape me? Was this worth a night off for them? There are no words to describe what it feels like to watch someone let a monster hurt you. I still wonder about that. No one did any thing about it. Ever.
Let me just be really clear here about what McQueary should have done when he turned the corner in that locker room. He should have grabbed Sandusky off of that young boy and beat the shit out of him. Pummeled him to with in an inch of his last breath. Then he should have wrapped that boy up, taken him to a secure place and call the police, an ambulance and his mother. There is no excuse at all for not helping that boy and handing Sandusky over to the police instantly. That Paterno is being allowed to retire at the end of the season, on his own terms, is beyond me. He should be fired immediately and have his retirement taken away. Those boys didn’t have any control over their situation when they were being raped and molested and certainly were not afforded any negotiations. Paterno, McQueary and Schultz all have guilty hands in the abuse of those boys by not doing anything. All involved should see jail time and a sexual predator badge slapped on them forever because they knew what was happening; they may as well have held the boys down for Sandusky. What kind of person sees and hears about a kid being raped and does nothing simply because the law didn’t require them too. Doesn’t your conscience require you to act? Doesn’t your humanity demand it of you? If not, then you are more broken than me. They are unsalvageable men that should pay the same price that those little boys have, and will ,for the rest of their lives.