Social Question

filmfann's avatar

What exactly did Joe Paterno do wrong?

Asked by filmfann (40142 points ) November 9th, 2011

I admit I don’t know much about this, but what I have heard bothers me.
He’s a famous guy somehow involved in a child molesting case, but he didn’t do the molesting. Someone else saw it, and reported it to him. He then reported it to the College Board, as I understand it.
He didn’t call the cops, but he didn’t just let it drop. He did what the other guy did: report it to his superiors.
Why is he getting shit on here? Is it because he is famous?

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24 Answers

chyna's avatar

I think they think he should’ve gone further. If after reporting this, he saw that nothing happened, he should have pursued the matter, perhaps calling the cops. No one should let a case of child molestation go.

deni's avatar

Yeah, what @chyna said. But it seems like some people are just as angry at him as the two dudes that actually did it. Or was it only one dude? I’m not really sure. But, being from Pennsylvania, half of my friends facebook updates have been cursing Joe Paterno and the other guys. But yeah, I don’t think he should be getting as much shit.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Technically nothing, but he was the boss. He had a duty to know what his employees were doing, and to take appropriate action when called for.

Blackberry's avatar

Oh, that’s what happened? Then why was this responsibility on his shoulders even after he reported it? Wouldn’t that be the responsibility of the people he reported to?

filmfann's avatar

Why is it his responsablity to follow up, once he has reported it to his bosses?

filmfann's avatar

@Blackberry beat me by a second, there. If we agree on something, I might need to rethink my position.

chyna's avatar

@Blackberry Yes, and they have lost their jobs. People think Joe Paterno didn’t do enough to stop what was going on.

Frankie's avatar

From what I understand thus far, Paterno did everything legally required of him (he reported the incident to his superior), but the general opinion is that he did not do what was morally required of him…as in, he should have aggressively pursued the issue, including reporting it to the police himself, rather than just hoping/assuming the superior he told would. And I think there’s a pretty good point there. One would hope that if one was made aware of a terrible sexual assault on a child, one would make sure that the perpetrator was brought to justice. Sadly, though, hindsight is 20/20. I’m sure Paterno, knowing what he knows now, wishes he had done more, but at the time thought he had done enough. And now his legacy will forever be overshadowed by the fact that he, arguably, enabled the sexual assault of children. My issue is that while, technically, he may have enabled this, the fact that he is a “celebrity” means all the negative attention is being heaped on him, rather than where it actually belongs – the actual pedophile rapist.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Blackberry and @filmfann I agree with you, the people he reported to were charged criminally. Paterno had not been charged with anything, but public opinion is calling for heads to roll, and his is the most recognized.

Joker94's avatar

@Frankie Hit the nail on the head, the media has really zeroed their scope in on Paterno rather than the sicko behind the assaults.

Blackberry's avatar

@filmfann I was just as clueless as you, but after reading about it, he could have done more.

filmfann's avatar

I have no doubt he could have done more. We all could do more.
Did his shortcomings mean he deserved to be fired?
Once again, he did report it to his superiors.

Blackberry's avatar

@filmfann I don’t know, since I don’t know the exact details. The way they portray him, they make it seem like he just said “Oh, someone is having sex with kids, I better report this” “Ok, did my part” and whistles while walking away lol. I’m sure it wasn’t that extreme, but that’s why it is seen as a cover up. I haven’t read anything from Paterno explaining why he handled it the way he did.

wonderingwhy's avatar

JoePa was a sacrifice to the gods of image and publicity (which in college sports are tied tightly to donors and revenue) with maybe a bit of moral incredulity thrown in. By firing him it minimizes the schools public scrutiny over time and helps put the issue to rest as quickly as possible – at least I suspect those are their goals. What did he do wrong? Legally, nothing, as evidenced by the fact he wasn’t charged. Did he deserve to be fired? Not in my opinion, based on what I’ve heard. Should he have done more? That’s obviously debatable and I’d want to know more about what exactly was known when and what was done before I’d form much of an opinion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Oh I just learned more about this situation and I really wonder how you’d ever wonder the question you wondered. He saw the rape in progress and left the scene. Are you kidding? Because of his inadequacy the victim hasn’t been identified and the situation can’t be rectified for that 10-year old boy. What a freaking coward Paterno is, disgusting.

Blackberry's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I was under the impression another guy saw it, well, one of them (the boy in the shower) and then waited until the next day to tell Paterno. Are you referring to something different?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blackberry Yes, should have put McQueary. Paterno didn’t file a police report and he told the perp to ‘stop bringing kids on campus’ – what kind of a punishment is that, exactly?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Joe Paterno did report it to the head of campus police and the president of the University. Shouldn’t the campus cop be the one that is fired for not making out a report?

Blackberry's avatar

@WestRiverrat I didn’t know that. I was under the impression he only told his superior, and that seemed pretty ridiculous.

Buttonstc's avatar

Paterno, as well as being a coach of a highly successful football team, has long attributed his success to instilling in “his kids” (the players) to do what is right in everything on and off the field.

The apparent hypocrisy of his actual behavior in light of his oft taught and oft repeated moral ideals is what people are reacting to.

Let’s put it another way with a hypothetical question which may clarify the issue. What would he have done if the ten year old child in question were his own son or grandson ?

And should he have done any less to protect another parent’s child? We aren’t referencing what might be euphemistically be termed “horseplay” with randy teenagers. This was the anal rape of a ten year old child. Nobody should be more concerned with the reputation of their football franchise over the safety of a child.

He (Paterno) had more real-life power than the person to whom he reported and the President of the University combined.

If he had weilded this power in defense of innocent children, this would have all come to light much sooner and scores of future innocent victims could have been spared lifelong damage from the abuser. (This incident was brought to his attention by McQueary in 2002)

His lack of definitive action is totally similar to many of the higher ups in the RC Church and this is why people are disgusted with him and holding him accountable, morally if not legally.

There’s an interesting quote of Lincoln’s which I’ll paraphrase here and try to edit back in later. “Most men can weather adversity but if you really want to test a person’s character, give him power.”

I think that pretty much sums up why his lack of action in enabling this pedophile to continue unchecked is so indefensible.

He was the guy whom tons of parents through the years entrusted with guiding their kids in life principles as well as football. And when his test came, he failed it to the continual detriment of countless kids over the next 9 years.

“Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

A. Lincoln

WestRiverrat's avatar

I am not sure how it works in Pennsylvania, but where I went to school the ‘real’ police had no standing on university property unless they were requested by the campus police. If that is the case here, even if Joe Paterno had called the real police, they would hand it to the campus police who would have been in charge of the investigation.

filmfann's avatar

I don’t understand why the guy who actually saw this happen didn’t step up and floor the perv.
But he didn’t. He reported it to Paterno.
Paterno told the head of his department.
I am sure he thought he was doing enough. He is being held to a higher standard.
@WestRiverrat good point! That would be interesting to find out.

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