Penn State and Restitution

Artist Michael Pilato this week painted a blue ribbon — a symbol for awareness of child sexual abuse — on the portion of his “Inspiration State College” mural in State College, PA, that once included the image of recently convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

So now what? It’s over?

Although the U.S. Supreme Court insists that corporations have the same free speech rights and citizens, it is not likely that Penn State – the institution – will be indicted and hauled into court as an accessory in the Sandusky matter.

Some former Penn State officials do face prosecution. Gary Schultz, Penn State’s former vice president of business administration, and Tim Curley, the university’s former athletic director, await trial on one count each of perjury and failing to report an alleged instance of child-sex abuse in a Penn State athletic-facility shower in 2001. The men have pleaded not guilty. However, former Penn State President Graham Spanier  who was ousted by Penn State’s trustees in November, continues to draw a salary. No criminal charges have been filed against him.

It can be argued that Penn State as an institution looked the other way where Sandusky was concerned, placing vulnerable children in harms way.  Penn State’s complacency allowed Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, to use his affiliation at Penn State, not to mention the athletic department shower room, to accomplish many of his evil acts.

Penn State will be sued civilly by some of Sandusky’s immediate victims but it seems to me that the university owes a greater debt.  I propose that Penn State consider restitution for its role in the Sandusky tragedy.

Penn State has among the largest endowments ($1.7 billion) of any private university in the world. Why not use some of that money to fund a scientific research program on pedophilia?  How can society combat this insidious menace. What kinds of treatments might really work? And what should the legal system do with pedophiles, who have alarming rates of recidivism.

Also, I propose that Penn State endow a scholarship for the type of poor and vulnerable “at risk”  children who were targeted by Jerry Sandusky. Maybe even ten scholarships, one for each of Sandusky’s victims. Maybe 45 for each count for which Sandusky was convicted?

While I’m at it, here are some other suggestions for Penn State:

  • Next time someone complains to a university official (not to mention the University President) about a potential crime, consider it an opportunity to act to limit the university’s liability..
  • Even the best personnel policies in the world are meaningless if they are not followed. Personnel policies should apply to everyone on campus — not just the cafeteria staff and janitors. There should be basic procedures in place that kick in whenever a complaint is lodged with the campus administration regardless of who is involved.
  • It’s easy to forget that the university’s reputation is more important than the reputation of the football team. Hey, maybe that should be painted on the Penn State mural?

Sandusky was found guilty last week on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period.


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