Mixed week: UVA win overshadowed by scandal

Last weekend proved a real conflict for me. On the one hand, UVA finally got a November win and silenced trash-talking Yankees, but on the other hand, a man who so many (myself included) believed was the epitome of dignity and principle in college football has proven to be anything but.

The weekend started off well: in addition to Virginia’s win, Hampden-Sydney was victorious over Washington and Lee, clinching the 2011 ODAC title and a D-III playoff berth.

While UVA’s win over Maryland should have been a foregone conclusion (the Terps aren’t exactly having a stellar season despite the pressure on new coach Randy Edsall), it was still a notable victory. Mike London continues to defy the almost Chicago Cubs-like curses associated with Virginia football: the Cavs can’t win more than one big game a season, can’t win two games in a row, and wins in November are a pipe dream.

It’s becoming evident that thanks to coach London, Chase Minnefield, Mike Rocco, Kevin Parks and Perry Jones, the billy goat has left Scott Stadium (unfortunately, it still resides at Wrigley Field).

But the joy of HSC’s and UVA’s wins was almost totally eclipsed by the revelation that stalwart humanitarian Joe Paterno utterly failed in his moral duty regarding the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State.

No matter that he, the University, and even a grand jury, insist Paterno “met [his] responsibilities” almost a decade ago after being notified that one of his assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, allegedly assaulted a naked boy in the Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus. Paterno may have done exactly what he was legally required to do– notify his athletic director– but people, including Paterno himself, who argue that the coach did what he should have done need to take stock and recalibrate their moral compass.

Famous people in general, and sports stars in particular, have leeway no ordinary person could ever hope to have. The world certainly has changed since the U.S. Senate denounced Ingrid Bergman as “an instrument of evil” and Ed Sullivan refused to have her on his show because the actress left her husband and had a child with another man. These days, it would be hard to find a television host who wouldn’t foam at the mouth to have Tiger Woods as a guest. No repudiation anymore: today we embrace scandalous behavior.

But Joe Paterno didn’t cheat on his wife with a stripper. Paterno, as he himself testified, was told that Sandusky assaulted a child, and he informed only one person, Penn State’s athletic director, a man who has now been charged with perjury and failing to report the incident under Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law. Paterno didn’t do more than the letter of the law required of him; the man who has long been heralded a personification of fidelity and integrity didn’t use his power to keep one of his assistants from molesting not just one, but what authorities now claim were eight children.

Love for college football runs deep in this country, so deep that flagrant financial and academic corruption is actually encouraged (“If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” is the mantra). But surely even our obsession with college football can’t prevail this time.

Paterno’s failure to report alleged child molestation to the authorities, even if he wasn’t legally required to do so, is an indefensible moral failure. In an untenable situation, Paterno put football first. Heaven help us if we ever do the same.
~
Juanita lives on a farm in Charlotte County with her husband, son, and many dogs.

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29 comments

Wow, talk about misleading. The implication from the headline is that UVA did something wrong. Shame on you for throwing mud on UVA that was produced by the disgraceful behavior of Joe Paterno and Penn State. Paterno shouldn't be given the honor of retirement -- his butt should be kicked out the door, pronto. But that has nothing to do with UVA.

The writer missed the opportunity to make comparisons between the schools .... Both plagued by sexual assault scandals. The difference here is that the Prosecutors/grand jury in PA had the fortitude to press charges even though many years had passed. Contrast this action with the local prosecutors in our town who allow young women to be raped - and murdered - on the UVA campus and hold no one at UVA responsible. UVA should see the issues at Penn State as their last and final wake up call -- the message to President Sullivan: tighten your stance on sexual assault and abuse and work with the local prosecutors to seek justice against those who commit rape and assault on your campus or risk this kind of publicity down the road.

Poorly written headline, what are you- a novice?

1) What do the topics in this article have to do with one another?
2) Really Pam? Local prosecutors are allowing young women to be raped and murdered without holding what you believe to be the appropriate parties responsible? It's a good thing for you that the "local prosecutors" have more important things to do than go after people who post on message boards for libel.

@Carrboro Pete - Libel.? No, just the facts. How many rapes at UVA are prosecuted? That would be a zero. UVA staff knows they happpen yet keep mum on the topic. That's why everyone is ticked at Paterno.....he kept his mouth shut and kept a predator on his staff.

Joe Pa should have been fired yesterday, if I was at all associated with Penn state I would be ashamed, especially at the gall of these pathetic press events and even the mention of this weekends games. The student support goes to show how out of touch and easily influenced college students are. Sandusky should put a bullet in his head and accept his sure banishment to the deepest of hell.

Boy oh boy, I was waiting for our little town to jump on this. This is--to the tragic kids and families who were impacted by this tragedy--a story of sexual abuse, the loss of innocence, and the loss of faith in adults and institutions. However, it is a story of systems--programs, if you will--and the growth of unchecked power that, even in an institution where the president is a leading researcher in family counseling, causes educated people to act immorally. Power and money corrupt, and these people had absolute power.

You don't think it could happen at UVa? Don't be so naive and myopic to the orange and blue. It does, on a not so publicized scale, all the time. Pam is absolutely correct. While the students in State College who stood outside Paterno's house singing the Alma Mater are misguided, at least the State College community had the testicular fortitude to turn on a legend (and the university's president); enough was enough. Public opinion forced the board to ax Paterno and give the president an ultimatum.

I doubt the local community would have the guts--and morals--to do the same in Charlottesville.

What you are legally required to do and what you must do as a member of our society are two different things for sure. Paterno should have fired himself, because when he found out about this years ago, he FORGOT to fire his marginal defensive coordinator. Strange, as he would have done it to a marginal player.

Where were those who were calling for Paterno's dismissal? NOWHERE!!! The PSU Board of Trustees has real guts- knowing the backlash. They are the first "heros" of this matter by firing Paterno.

Think about this, Paterno put himself and his football program way above his moral obligation to society for, it looks like, a number of years. Sometimes you have to pay for that, just like anyone in the workplace- and it is a workplace, not just a football team or game.

I guess when you are proclaimed king, by idiots (it is just a game), you start to believe that you are above it all, invincible and not responsible to or for anything or anybody.

Any number of people who think the UVa football program suffers because the AD, the University and others stress and require academics and morals above the athletic (primarily the football) program, should reconsider what college athletics is really all about. IT IS SUPPOSED TO BUILD CHARACTER!

Life is plagued by crap like this and when we as a society don't take care of the victims and those who are the cause when something like this occur, then we as a society are doomed................perhaps that has already happened.

Don't ever turn your back on anything like this- be a real person and think about this sad event when you have the choice to be a factor in someone elses life.

Horrid attempt by the writer of this article. Someone at The Hook should allow one of our area's many talented high school student sports writers a crack at the space this current writer's drivel periodically occupies. Unbelievable.

Paterno did what he legally and morally should have done, report the allegations to his superiors. You really don't need 15,000 people hearing a rumor and calling the policedd.
@pam, who at UVa is responsible for rape and murder? Why doesn't the victim report it to the police?

@ Cville Eye -- have you not been around the past 10 years and read the stories in the Hook? Young women report sexual assault but nothing is ever done. Universities are a city unto themselves and rule and govern as they please. When a University official is aware that a sexual assault took place, they should take action. Paterno did what he should have done - he reported it. then he divorced himself from the event,. He had a moral obligation to protect his students - which means he needed to do more than report it. I cannot accept that he kept a pedophile on his staff. Just as I cannot accept a University President knowingly keeping a serial rapist on campus. it doesn't pass the common sense test.

Cville eye- well, you are then part of the problem with our society. There is no difference between any of those who knew what was going on at PSU (even hear-say) and someone who turns up their stereo or closes a window to drown out the cries of a mugging or rape victim.

Perhaps Paterno should have taken that little piece of crap McQueary and marched him down to the police and shown him what should be done.....but no......the football program could not be interrupted by such petty stuff.

Way to go Joe! You may find yourself an accessory to this heinous crime.

The Hook may have written stories about women at UVA being sexually assaulted and the school not doing enough, but when presented with a case where a father allegedly sexually assaulted his own child, the Hook CHOSE to take the father's side and write about the "false allegation" angle. There is a local case of a very prominent man with very powerful friends accused, with much supporting evidence, of molesting his own child. The local prosecutor at the time, the police, the courts, the guardian ad litem ALL chose to believe that the child and the child's mother were lying despite all evidence to the contrary. The hook chose to do nothing to help this child.

I am quite certain that when members of the hook's staff read this comment they will know exactly what case is being referred to here. The list of prominent members of the local community that chose to support a man accused of child molestation is lengthy. When that child becomes an adult and chooses to tell the full story, woe to those that chose to help this man.

Don't even begin to think that Charlottesville is above this kind of cover up. It's already happened, it is continuing, and the hook played its part.

@pam, " When a University official is aware that a sexual assault took place..." He did not know that a sexual assault took place and he could not testify in court that he did. I have been here over 80 years and am very much aware that UVa does not report many crimes to the local police nor rumors of any. For example, it was very resistant to local police investigating students for drug trafficking in the '80s and had to learn otherwise. "...then he divorced himself from the event..." as well he should. He did not have investigative powers and his confronting the accused may have resulted in his giving advance notice and the person may have gone underground. Better to leave it to the professionals.
@HarryD " Cville eye- well, you are then part of the problem with our society. There is no difference between any of those who knew what was going on at PSU (even hear-say)..." Exactly what problem am I a part of? As someone said on another blog, remember Duke's Lacrosse team? What was that problem? The men proved to be innocent, the victim proved to be otherwise. The accused ended up being the victims and scarred. The victim went on to be arrested for something else I believe. How do you know that the guy who said he said molestation occurring in the shower was telling the truth? How do you know that the staff was not accustomed to his making wild or exaggerated statements. How do you know he did not have a grudge against the accused? How do you know he was not under the influence of something? I certainly was not a part of the problem at Duke but your statements leave me to believe that if you had been there you would have been. Where is the morality in telling police something you know absolutely nothing about? Where is the morality in possibly destroying people's lives because you were told something by someone you do not know that well (I believe the accuser was a graduate student at the time of the alleged incident). Paterno did exactly as he should have done and got out of the way. He had no official standing in any investigation. PSU's summarily firing him at this time speaks ill of the leaders at that school and if I were applying for ajob there, I would tell them I have changed my mind.

Other actions committed by Paterno may well have opened the door for many law suits against him and the school if the many turned out to be innocent.

" The hook chose to do nothing to help this child." But "meanwhile...." came out from behind the screen and helped the child I'm sure. Tell us exactly what you did .

Well, finally the typical Charlottesville attitude comes out -- blame the victim. We have laws against molesting children in this country. Yes, innocent until proven guilty is the American way that we tend to forget .... but to keep a known pedophile on staff? C'mon, that's just gross. Cville Eye ... Duke lacrosse case has NOTHING to do with this case.

Pam, You're the one that started out early in this discussion by attempting to link the unrelated. UVA has NOTHING to do with the Penn State case.

"UVA should see the issues at Penn State as their last and final wake up call" Really, you think someone on UVA's staff is responsible for raping someone? If so, who is it?

You think people at the highest levels of the administration are covering for it? That is certainly what you've implied with your later statement "Just as I cannot accept a University President knowingly keeping a serial rapist on campus." Again, who?

I think your own words describe what you're saying pretty well, "it doesn't pass the common sense test."

C-ville eye- your saying that "Paterno did what he legally and morally should have done, report the allegations to his superiors."

That's BS and you know it! He is the "superior"! McQueary, now gone too, thought he was doing his duty to tell the "King of Crappy Valley"............

Well, that grad student hadn't learned a thing about life at PSU. He is a "danger" to society because he is weak and didn't care to get involved any further than he did. He would have been terrific on a battle field- running the other way- wah, wah, wah.............

Good riddance to Paterno, Mc Queary and all the others at PSU who had toal disregard for the victim(s) in this case- placing their lives above others- perfect 'heros" in many a mind.

ok, cookie and cville eye-- check this out: www.uvavictimsofrape.com

I found this site a few years ago when a friend of mine was assaulted on campus and no one wanted to help her. I participated in the Silent Protest. Until then I thought the school would always protect us - but from that day forward I have looked at things differently. Perhaps you have never known anyone who was assaulted, so you may not be aware of the process women are put through. I linked this to Penn State because there is a similarity - when a college staff member turns a blind eye to a crime, it supports all the other responders to turn a blind eye. That's the wake-up call. people are tired of sexual predators - whether they are staff or students - being harbored on our campuses.

So let's say this situation happened here, and the person intervened, even stopped the situation. Pretty brave, considerng the alleged rapist was higher up than him. Let's say he even calls the police -- that would the University Police, they have jurisdiction on Grounds. He hasn't been arrested before, so University leadership -- to whom the University Police report, cut a deal. Ater all, the University doesn't like scandal or publicity but works on the "Somebody has to go down for this" principle. I vote for the coach losing his keys and agreeing to some kind of counseling (or not) and that brave employee? He has to go. Best case - a year's severance and a non-disclosure. Or maybe he wasn't really performing anyway and isn't renewed. I bet he was always an attitude problem. Sound like VQR? Mmm. President Sullivan was so new she may not have known she was being snookered on that one so UVA avoided a lawsuit and literary Penn State played out here - let's hope she takes some overt action to show faculty, staff, students and the community she means what she said this time.

Ernest- you are just kidding aren't you? I would think that the PSU case will change the way this type of thing is looked at everywhere from now on.

Don't just be a bystander or a witness- get involved in stopping this type of thing instead of running to the police and trying to tell a story that they probably will not believe.

Confront the attacker, help the victim and take lots of pictures.

If the police and institution will not take action, you will be able to find someone who will.

It is just like a parent who you see yelling and manhandling their child............stare 'em down and they will get the point for sure..........

Get involved.

HarryD you are naive. The assistant coach DID get involved. At the risk of his career, he told Paterno, because Paterno was the only person powerful enough to do take on the system and do something about what happened. You think the assistant coach had his cell phone in the shower and took a picture of the rape in progress? Or had the presence of mind to do so?

Who do you suggest telling if the police and "the institution" don't take action? I think that is the point.

Kevin Morrissey tried telling the institution and no one would believe him. His sister told the national press and the institution's "investigation" revealed nothing bad. The supervisor is still there and all the employees quit.

No walk ever followed the talk - no antibullying policies, and none of the recommendations happened. "They" never got the point on VQR and the "someone" never showed up to take action. Wishful thinking. That's why I await President Sullivan taking an action that will show she means business. She could start with Human Resources.

Ernest- you are right I am naive. IT'S A CRIME!!!!

Wonder if he would have reported to the cops if he had seen someone breaking into the locker room, the equipment room, the trophy case- hum?????? Dam (sic) right he would have- think he would have gone to his daddy and the "king"- only after he reported teh d\crime against his precious little football program. Same with paterno.

Start with the cops. Its a crime.

Tell the DA! It is a criminal offense.

Tell the PRESS for the sake of the VICTIMS! (remember them?)

Paterno is now the deposed King of Crappy Valley. Maybe he can claim he was old and decrepit.

Oh yes Penn State does have something in common with UVA. Any school that refuses to adhere to the legal standards of the United States, sets up their own police force and mandates the reporting of all crimes to that local police force is setting themselves up for an abuse of power situation. This has happened repeatedly at UVA- I personally know of two situations. Mind you these were assults of students at UVA not children and one was a sexual assult one was a physical assult. In both cases the people one male one female were told not to take the complaint any further as it would be an honor code issue. You, the 80 years resident of Cville, must have spent many of those decades with your eyes closed or certainly NOT on the UVA grounds.. When is the last time you met, talked to, or cared about ANY of the women or peoplewhose issues have been reported in the press? Do you think that they are all making these things up? Maybe in the 50s there were no assults, no drunken lacrose or rugby players beating up their girlfriends on the grounds, in fraternity houses at fraternity house parties. Maybe. Or maybe UVA had a dont ask dont tell policy about molestating women, who by definitiion werent UVA students when you were at UVA. Your exulted Dean Casteen referred to Yeardley Love as one of your own while ignoring Morgan Harrington who was taken at UVA and either killed there or killed nearby since she was NOT one of yur own. Face it, whenever a insular society decides to appoint itself as judge as jury and police force, abuses occur. Thank goodness that UVA doesnt have prominent authority figures accused of child molestateion. But they have certainly turned a blind eye to numerous female assults.

cat- fairly sure that it happens anywhere you have 21k+ kids mixed up in a city of 43K......there are many schools and universities that have their own police force, primarily because a city does not want to be taxed for or involved int that policing.

Harry the numbers may be right but I guarantee that noone send their kid to a school if they dont think that kid will be safe. The topic of schools using their own law enforcement is being looked at in Richmond this week. I know that UVA has a large endowment, and great investment results on that endowment, they can afford to pay something back to the community instead of using rent a a cops and the honor council to judge crimes at the university. Again, you may be right on the numbers and the taxation issue is a very fair question, but after Yeardley,(Morgan), and Penn State, an insitution that insists on its own internal police force may let itself open for a huge financial liability if it can be proven that they have not followed legal standards in protecting and reporting offences on campus.

HarryD: "a city does not want to be taxed for or involved int that policing". I've heard that argument before, and it doesn't hold water. Charlottesville does not want to pay to investigate felony crimes taht occur on grounds? Well, these kids pay rent, eat in your restaurants, buy your goods in the local sotres, and yes, some even pay taxes because they own homes in the area. having police protection is their right. It doesn't matter if a rape occurs on grounds or off grounds - police response should be the same. The only way these students will receive proper investigations will be for the laws and codes to be revised to MANDATE joint collaboration on Felony crimes. The Hook has covered this in the past -- the proposed law is HB 2490, introduced by Delegate Paula Miller of Norfolk.

Tomorrow, Nov 16th, the VA Crime Commission will hear testimony on HB2490. UVA cops will be there en force to try and intimidate the speakers and persuade the Commission not to adopt the bill. Anyone who is in support of this bill should immediately send an email to Delegate Rob Bell and urge him to support this legislation. His email is; DelRBell@house.state.va.us

I do hope the bill passes.......but it is a big community of kids alien to the area and that makes it a tough job.

Perhaps it is time for the rent-a-cops to go away..............