Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse Friday night and faces spending the rest of his life in state prison. His attorney said he would appeal the verdict.
Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, asked Judge John Cleland to allow Sandusky to be released on house arrest, but Cleland summarily rejected the request, saying: “Bail is revoked. Mr. Sandusky is remanded to the custody of the sheriff.”
Sandusky was immediately led out of the courthouse in handcuffs as a large crowd of onlookers cheered.
Again, this was hardly surprising. The evidence against Sandusky was overwhelming. The man clearly abused these young men, and likely many others, hiding behind his prestige and a two-dollar smile.
There were a couple of things I did not like. The cheers were one of them. This is not a concert, this was not an encore. A man will die in prison, probably by his own hands or some other inmates. As horrific as his crimes are, you do not cheer at the potential for someone else suffering.
More so, the cheers are hollow. How many of the people clapping will actually do anything to help the boys and young men in their community who have been raped by Sandusky? How many of them have done any outreach now? Let us not kid ourselves. These are the same people who were rioted for Joe Paterno when this case broke. Perhaps it is the cynic in me, but I do not think cheap applause helps anyone.
I did not like the Attorney General patting herself on the back over this conviction. Where was she or any of the public officials when all this went down? We have cases going back to 1998 where no charges were filed, no one monitored Sandusky, and no one bothered to try to find out if any other victims were out there. So please spare us the “We’ll believe kids” grandstanding when at least half the young men who testified in the trial would not have had to if law enforcement had done their jobs.
What really got to me was the media talking heads calling Sandusky a “monster”. He is not a monster. He is a person. A person just like you. That is why he could blend in. People are so busy looking for the guy in the trench coat and 70s van instead of the man who hangs out with kids, the babysitter who all the moms recommend to each other, the youth mentor concerned speaking out against violence, the aunt who all the kids do not like, and so on. People who abuse children are not vampires, werewolves, or goblins. They look like everyone else, and we need to stop pretending that the only thing that drives them is the desire to rape kids. We will never find the people who abuse kids if we keep looking for stereotypical caricatures.
The other thing I did not like was the crowd’s response to Amendola when he professed his client’s innocence. Whether you agree with him or not, you do not attack the man for noting that there have been innocent placed in prison. I do not believe that Sandusky is innocent at all, but let us not pretend that no one has ever been wrongfully convicted before.
That said, Amendola proved yet again during the press conference that he should not speak publicly. While he is entitled to his opinion, it is an incredibly stupid thing to say after you admit there was a mountain of evidence against your client. Despite admitting the strength of the evidence, Amendola still tried to blame others for what happened. He blamed the media for their coverage, and continued to imply that there was a grand conspiracy.
At the very least he did explain what happened with Matt Sandusky. According to Amendola, the prosecutors called him sometime before they rested their case to tell them that Matt Sandusky wanted to testify against his father. However, the prosecutors decided to hold off presenting Matt as a rebuttal witness. This hindered Amendola’s plan of letting Sandusky testify. Apparently they intended to put Sandusky on the stand, but with the threat of Matt Sandusky testifying against his father, the defense attorneys convinced Sandusky not to take the stand. Amendola also stated that Sandusky’s other children denied their brother’s accusation that their father abused him.
Speaking of Jerry, he looked dazed and confused when police brought him out of the courthouse. He looked to be shaking his head in disbelief. I think he may honestly believe he did nothing wrong. Then again, it might be the possible sentence that left him stunned. He will spend at least 60 years in prison. That is a death sentence, and as I mentioned above, he faces great risk of violence from other inmates.
And before anyone says, no, he does not deserve to be raped, beaten, or harmed while in prison. You do not show that rape is bad by condoning the rape of rapists.
Likewise, before anyone says “It’s over”, this is far from over. There are charges against Penn State’s former president, and Curley and Schultz still have to face trial. There is also the contentious issue of who knew what because this went on for far too long without anyone having a clue what Sandusky was about. Here is something I heard watching the coverage tonight that never occurred to me: when Sandusky retired from Penn State, no other universities tried to hire him.
Think about that. This man was the assistant head coach of Joe Paterno. He was supposed to be Jo Pa’s replacement. Why would no one try to court him? Why would not college throw as much money as they could to scoop him up?
That suggests that people ever knew about him or heard enough rumors to make them wary. And that what we need to know: who else knew about this.
The big question is what will people do after all this. This is hardly the first time a big case involving child rape gained national attention, yet every time the media and the national uproar fades and people go on as if nothing happened. I would love to believe that this will prompt changes. It probably will at Penn State, if for no reason other than the scrutiny the coming trials will bring.
But for everyone else, I do not think anything will change. We have heard these last two weeks what sexual violence against boys looks like, yet I doubt that people will keep that in mind. We talk about the courage of the young men who testified, yet I doubt people will remember that months from now.
We need to maintain the national dialogue about sexual violence against children, especially sexual violence against boys. That is the only way we will be able to prevent this from happening to anyone else. We cannot just go back to business as usual.