Brave New World: Jerry Sandusky


Billy (not his real name) was nine-years-old when the friendly man approached him outside a convenience store a few blocks north of where Billy lived.

Billy was friendly, obedient and respectful toward adults, and when the man started chatting with Billy, Billy brightened up and chatted back.  After a short while, the nice man asked Billy if he would like to take a walk with the man, and Billy agreed.

The man took Billy to the man’s house where what the man did to Billy should never be experienced by any little boy.

When Billy got home, scared, dazed and humiliated, the first thing he did was take a shower.  It failed to take away his feelings of being sullied, polluted.

Embarrassed and having deep feelings of guilt, he told no one about the incident, living alone with it for years.

In his mid-20s, long after the perpetrator could possibly be found, Billy finally told someone.

He had grown to be a good-looking young man.  He tried to have normal relationships with girls in high school and afterwards but eventually concluded he was what he was.  Two summers ago he yielded to temptation and sought out like-minded persons who encouraged behavior – drugs, e.g., meth, and sex – divorced from Billy’s previous persona until one night he realized that if he continued, he would be spiritually, if not physically, dead.

He had himself checked out at Virginia Mason Hospital, and again six months later.  He was clean.  He moved away from the Seattle area, away from the sources of temptation.

He believes the pedophilic event was pivotal.  He changed.  Billy believes he was robbed of what he should have been, what he wishes for now but is kept from having, even vicariously pretending the marriage and growing family of his brother are in a sense also his.

The subject of pedophilia is complex, and among researchers there is extensive disagreement.  Thus far most research has involved some bias.  There are those whose position is that, regardless of what Billy believes, whatever happened to Billy later in life was not caused by the pedophile.  NAMBLA advocates the position that, with respect to young boys, sex is love, love is better than no love, ergo…  The annoying natural sequence of things, however, suggests Billy may actually better-know what permanently happened inside him than NAMBLA.  Generally, men prefer women, not little boys.  The prospect of having sex with a child is, to an average adult male, unthinkable; the act unconscionable.  It is very difficult to objectively accept the position that pedophilia is void of consequences, having no deleterious effect on the victim’s emotional health or future behavior.  A lack of consequences is just not how the world works.  As evidenced in the case of Billy, pedophilia is damaging.  Normality is compromised.  Pedophilia goes well beyond the boundaries that any healthy society sets.

In light of current events, if pedophilia is anathema to the common weal, how is this anathema abrogated when the pedophile is a popular football coach?  Is the victim any less abused?  Does anal sex with a naïve, prepubescent little boy suddenly become consensual?


Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky, a popular, forceful person used to getting what he wanted, was charged with multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault, among other things, between 1994 and 2009.  There were eight victims at first.  Then a ninth came forward.  1994 through 2009.  There will probably be more, and the dates may expand.

Syracuse University now has similar problems.  There will probably be more.

Joe Paterno was fired because, although knowledgeable, he did not confront Sandusky but handed the problem off to the athletic director who essentially let it slide.  Paterno should have shown Sandusky the door immediately, and the law should have been brought in.  The college president also knew but let it slide.  The senior vice president of finance knew but let it slide.  Priorities seemed out-of-sorts where Penn State football was concerned.  The subsequent student body furor over the Paterno firing by the board of trustees was an embarrassment.  It is particularly onerous that Victim No. 1 has had to leave Central Mountain High School due to harassment from other high school students as well as, according to Victim No. 1’s mother, some parents and administrators.  Can the need to uphold a college football program’s winning image dictate the compromise of decency?


The Penn State officials “ultimately decided to tell Sandusky, who mentored children through a charity program, not to bring children into the football building,” effectively telling Sandusky that he could do whatever he wanted with little boys, he just couldn’t do it there.

“Billy” is very skeptical.  He believes Sandusky could not have maintained this behavior for as long as he did without complicity (“Why did he still have an office in the Penn State football building?”).  Billy believes Sandusky was not the only one.

Whatever went on, and whoever did what, the priorities surrounding the Penn State football program, where “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” (a quote originated by Fielding Yost and reiterated by Vince Lombardi), may not be much different than at other universities with major programs.  That could include Washington…although I doubt it – not because Seattle moral ground is any higher but because Coach Sarkisian hasn’t been at Washington long enough to gain a hallowed status, and a winning tradition hasn’t been reestablished and perpetuated to an extent where many Husky faithful would blindly rise to its defense.  As mentioned above, however, Syracuse is following Penn State and there could be more schools following Syracuse if victims are brave enough to come forward.

With respect to Sandusky, will justice be served?  Innocent until proven guilty is the proper legal focus but the fact that, in spite of social pressure, nine victims are willing to testify seems damning.  On the other hand, in a court of law, right and wrong can be anybody’s guess.  While suspect behavior should be judged either legal or illegal, it seems, as the adage goes, sometimes the only ones locked up are members of the jury, and recidivism is rampant.

There are too many laws with too many ambiguities, and legal technicalities can obfuscate everything else.  Ted Bundy’s defense team kept him out of the electric chair for nine years with numerous execution stays although they knew 1) what he was, 2) what he had done, and that 3) he was guilty as hell.  A fair trial would have put Bundy in the chair shortly after the third murder conviction rather than nine years later.  According to a recent interview, in now time-honored fashion, Joseph Amendola, Sandusky’s defense attorney, will effectively try Sandusky’s victims and any witnesses, beginning with statements in the press.  Whether justice will be served is a guess.

This is unfortunate because the uncertainty is evidence of a continued, gradual erosion of standards that preserve social order and respect among individuals.  Just like young children need firm boundaries to lead a well-adjusted life, so do nations.  When defense of a football program’s winning image trumps decency, obviously priorities are becoming unbalanced.  It is well the Penn State Board of Trustees took action quickly.

Now, more importantly, what will the courts do?  Will Jerry Sandusky’s court sentence become an example of what results from reprehensible deviate behavior with at least nine young boys, or will Sandusky lead us into a Brave New World where little boys like Billy become more hunted, essentially unprotected by the legal system?