The word from NBC News is that former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has sought out a criminal defense lawyer to represent him in the school’s ongoing child molestation scandal.
Frankly, that news is music to the ears of anyone who has followed this story – because it means that authorities are digging into the cover-ups that undoubtedly occurred at the university over the last decade.
From the moment it was made known -- via court documents -- that Paterno was briefed on Jerry Sandusky’s alleged inappropriate behavior with young boys, and yet the coach still allowed him on campus for years after the fact, it was obvious that something was amiss. According to those same court documents, after finding out about Sandusky’s alleged behavior in 2002, Paterno passed the information up along the university’s chain of command – as he was legally obligated to do.
So theoretically, Paterno should be free and clear of any criminal charges, right? Only if Paterno’s knowledge of the situation started and ended with the moment he heard about Sandusky’s behavior in that specific case in 2002. If that’s all he knew of Sandusky’s despicable behavior, then yes, he’s free and clear.
Of course -- and we have to be careful here because this is all assumption -- the idea that Paterno’s knowledge of the situation started and ended that one time is ridiculously far-fetched. It basically entails that the former Penn State head coach heard that his good friend and former co-worker was spotted raping a young boy, thought enough of it to report it to his superiors, but never chose to follow up on the matter. Furthermore, it would mean that all of those times before and after that specific alleged incident occurred, he was too self-involved with his losing football team to even bother to question whether or not his good friend and former co-worker was acting appropriately.
And that’s to say nothing of the questions surrounding why Paterno told Sandusky back in 1999 that he would never be allowed to replace him, despite the fact that the latter seemed to be the heir apparent. At the time, Sandusky had a sparkling resume and a 22-year history with the university as a member of the staff. The only black mark on his record at that point, was an investigation of alleged improprieties similar to the 2002 ones he was later charged with.
He would later admit to showering with at least one young boy as a result of that investigation, but no prosecution was undertaken.
Look, I’m not going to come out and say that Paterno was part of a massive school cover-up – but where there’s smoke there’s fire. Try to find any reasonable way to justify Paterno never ever looking back into at least the one alleged rape case he was made aware of.
There is none.
Paterno has reportedly hired J. Sedgwick Sollers, who at one point represented President George H.W. Bush in the Iran Contra affair.
Prior to Thursday, he was cleared by police of any wrongdoing. The sudden need to lawyer up is likely a preemptive strike for when folks start digging a little deeper, and asking questions that really aren’t that hard to come up with.
As per NBC News:
“A source close to Paterno said that in addition to the investigations by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, the former coach is concerned about the likelihood of civil lawsuits by Sandusky's alleged victims and their families.”
This story is just getting started.