Not Sorry for Sandusky

Main entrance of Old Main, at Penn State Unive...
Main entrance of Old Main, at Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jerry Sandusky is on suicide watch, and I find that I am just not feeling sorry for him.

In fact, I am angry at him, and I find that I am angry at Penn State, for apparently being quiet about Sandusky’s alleged sexual activities with young boys. I find that I am as angry at Penn State as I have been at the Roman Catholic Church‘s hierarchy for protecting priests accused of sexually violating children, primarily young boys.

I suppose Penn State’s hierarchy kept quiet because they wanted to protect their beloved football program. I love football; I love Penn State’s team, and I loved Joe Paterno…but football should never have been more important than protecting children.

The whole issue of sexual crimes, and what institutions do when such charges come to the surface, is a critical one. Institutions, it seems, are more interested in protecting their institutions than they are in protecting victims of sex crimes, and because of that, are prone to keep silent when the possibility of such a crime has occurred within their walls.

Talking with a friend of mine this weekend, I learned that sex crimes, or sexual impropriety are really common in churches. The tendency, my friend said, is for churches to keep silent. It is the worse thing a church could do.

“What happens is when it comes out that there’s been a problem with a sexual predator and one child, there usually are more children involved,” she said. “It blows up. Churches have destroyed by instances of sexual violations of children.”

What bothers me most in the Sandusky case is that Sandusky didn’t “look” like a bad guy, certainly not a guy who could or would violate children. He looked like he could be anyone’s grandfather…and he had an organization he founded to help kids at risk!  To have violated their trust makes me sad and sick, but Penn State’s “looking the other way” bothers me, too.

In the conversation I had with the same friend this weekend, I wondered out loud if people who commit sexual crimes are sick, or are they evil? Or…are some sicknesses in fact evil?

Neither one of us had an answer for that question, but I asked because maybe there needs to be research, if sexual impropriety is a sickness, on how to treat it early on so that people will not grow into sexual predators. Sick children grow into sick adults …

I don’t know that there is a treatment for evil. I am not even sure if I am clear on what evil is. So many behaviors could fit into that category.

If Sandusky is sick, I am sorry nobody ever pegged it, but I just cannot feel sorry for him. No, I don’t want him to commit suicide, but the fact that he is despondent is not moving me. I keep thinking of all those boys whose lives were forever altered by what he is accused of doing…

And as far as Penn State goes, if they knew and were silent about it, they should have to answer for it in such a way that nobody ever does anything like Sandusky supposedly did and think he or she will get away with it. If their silence was driven by a desire to protect their football program, maybe they ought to be made to sit out a couple of seasons, and get a good policy in place on what the university will do should such a situation ever develop again.

I read that the investigation against Sandusky is not yet complete, that there could be other charges against him. I’m not surprised. After all, he doesn’t look like a bad guy; he looks like he could be anybody’s grandfather.

That’s part of what makes him and other predators so dangerous. They fit in…they don’t stand out.

A candid observation

God’s Imperfection?

Cleft palate. Baby feeding from a bottle.
Cleft palate. Baby feeding from a bottle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been watching the Jerry Sandusky trial with a lot of interest and a lot of questions.

I am angry at him for what he has allegedly done, but, as I have wondered before as I have listened to stories of men sexually molesting children, I have also been kind of confused about something.

Are people who sexually molest children sick, or are they evil?  If they are evil, were they born that way? Or does that kind of evil come about as the result of some childhood trauma?

I can’t look at pictures of Sandusky without feeling ill, any more than I can stomach the thought of Roman Catholic priests molesting children and the Church keeping quiet about it.  I was molested once when I was a child by a man, a delightful man, I thought, who lived down the street from us. The memory makes me ill…but the questions I have about why, how molestation is such a major problem make me even more ill.

If those who molest children are sick, is it a sickness that was present in them when they were born?  Is there a gene or something that went haywire during the time the fetus was forming?  On the other hand, if those who molest are evil, how did that, how does that evil make its way to individuals? And why is there so much of that kind of evil in the world?

It makes me want to ask, out loud, “O God, where art thou?”

I have often wondered about the creative process. There are so many children born sick – bad hearts, no hearts, cleft palates and lips, rare genetic diseases …It seems like if there was one place where one could expect perfection, it would be in the womb, during the formation of the fetus, where the hand of God seemingly would be most active.

And yet, so many sick children are born! I saw a program on CNN the other day where 10-year-old children were accused and convicted of killing other children. And I have wondered,  “Did God miss a day in the creative process? What happened, that made such imperfection a reality of a process which on the surface would seem to be one streamlined for perfection?

I say that God doesn’t make mistakes, but when I think of the evil and sickness that is prevalent, I shudder. I know, I am disregarding the words of God in Genesis where God said that because of the sin of Adam and Eve, there would be misery in the world…but, still, I find myself struggling. Can God NOT stop the prevalence of sickness and evil in the world, or does God simply choose not to stop it?

I know…there are no answers…I am still angry, sickened, really, at the thought of what Jerry Sandusky may have done to those boys. I am saddened when I see a child born into the world gravely ill. And I have questions that I really wish God would answer.

From what I have heard and read, Sandusky is guilty…but I cannot help wishing God, with all of Her power, would do something to keep evil (or illness, if it’s that) like that out of the world. Too many children have suffered, and I guess I like the notion of a God that sees suffering …and stops it.

A candid observation …


Favor Ain’t Fair

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Patern...
Image via Wikipedia

Some time ago, I heard a sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes, in which he declared “favor ain’t fair.” He was addressing the issue of why bad things happen to good people, and why good things seem to happen to people who are, at best, a little less than “good.” “Favor” is defined as blessings that come from God, and, as the Bishop said, it is not always comprehensible on how God decides who gets good things in life and who does not.

It is a question that has plagued religious people for the longest time, and there is never a comforting answer, bu the issue came to me today once again as I read about why the Board of Trustees at Penn State decided to fire the late Coach Joe Paterno.

The trustees decided that Paterno had shown a “failure in leadership” after being told by a then-graduate assistant about some questionable sexual activity that appeared to be going on between a young boy and Jerry Sandusky. Though Paterno told the school’s athletic director, the Trustees believed he failed as a leader because he did not call the police. In an article which appeared on, a report issued by the Trustees said, ” “We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno.”

Wow. Favor…ain’t fair.

I found myself wondering what I would have done had I been in the coach’s position. If I had not seen the incident myself, I would not have called the police, but I would have probably advised the person who had told me what he’d seen to call the police. I would have told my athletic director, and probably would have asked what else I should do. Would I have been wrong?

It is virtually impossible for any of us  to “know” what we’d do in a given situation; we are all fairly good “armchair quarterbacks,” but I know that as a matter of course, I do not automatically take the word of someone who says he or she has seen something.

So what would I have done in his situation? As I read the story, I felt the pain I felt when the story first broke for Penn State’s beloved coach. I remember feeling that he did the best he knew how to do, but in the end, his best was not good enough. I tried imagining how it must have felt, knowing that he had devoted his life to Penn State,  only to be brought down because he hadn’t told the right people what had been told to him.

Favor is not fair, as Jakes said. Surely the Paterno family must be feeling some of that.

The whole situation opens, or should open, a conversation about just what to do in a situation like this. I am a pastor; if a member told me that he or she knew that a child was being molested, I would tell Children’s Services immediately. Wouldn’t that be the correct first step? Wouldn’t Children’s Services then be required to conduct an investigation and then alert police, should the accusations be true?

But back to Paterno…I feel a deep sadness for this man who thought he had done the right thing. Perhaps he DID do the right thing, but in this case, the right thing wasn’t “right enough.” In the end, he was brought all the way down…

You’re right, Bishop Jakes. Favor ain’t fair.

A candid observation…