Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For the Paterno family, the defense never rests

Jerry, JoePa. What did he know? When did he know it?

AP files (1999)

Jerry, JoePa. What did he know? When did he know it?

Joe Paterno's family can't rest.

How can they, when his legacy continues to unravel almost five years after he was fired by Penn State in the wake of a child sexual-abuse scandal involving one of his assistant coaches? How can they relax when Paterno's reputation, once pristine, grows more threadbare with every development in the case?

They can't. Not now, probably not ever. I get it. After all, that's what family is for. But that doesn't make it any less uncomfortable when people defend Paterno.

Last week, a judge's ruling in a civil case filed in Philadelphia revealed a claim that in 1976, a boy claimed to have told Paterno that Jerry Sandusky, then one of Penn State's assistant coaches, had sexually abused him. If the claim is true, that would be a quarter-century earlier than Paterno had said he first learned of Sandusky's abuses — from another staff member in 2001. In that instance, Paterno said that he had reported the accusation to his superior, as required by law. But he did not say that he had ever followed up, or moved to cut Penn State's ties with Sandusky, who is now serving what amounts to a life sentence in prison.

The latest development was a reminder that we will probably never know what Paterno, who died in 2012, knew of the abuse, or when he first learned of it.

On Twitter, Scott Paterno, one of Paterno's sons, tore into the latest accusation, writing: "It would be great if everyone waited to see the substance of the allegation before they assume it's true. Because it's not."

In another Twitter message, he claimed the new story didn't make any sense. Joe Paterno, the son said, would never have protected Sandusky, whom he labeled an "obscure assistant coach no one had yet heard of" in 1976, nor would he have left his own young children alone with him. "It's bunk," Scott Paterno wrote.

But is he right? Who can know for sure? What we do know is that Sandusky did terrible things to children, and even after hearing that Sandusky was discovered in the shower with a boy of about 10, Paterno didn't call the police. He didn't seek to have Sandusky barred from Penn State's athletic facilities, or apparently even question his assistant about what he had been told, even though the two men had been friends and colleagues for decades.

All that makes the Paterno family's continuing efforts to defend the coach hard to watch. But for the victims, this case will live on for the rest of their lives. They can't rest, either. — New York Times

For the Paterno family, the defense never rests 05/08/16 [Last modified: Sunday, May 8, 2016 9:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs do their best to stiff-arm the expectations

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If you want to see a team giving the Heisman trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    As always, the key to the Bucs success will be Jameis Winston. He still is only 23, but a charismatic leader that this team and this town believes deeply in. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations

    Bucs

    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.

    2008

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox

    Bucs

    They narrowly missed the playoffs by this much.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. For starters: Rays at Yankees, in a pretty big series

    Blogs

    The Rays open a challenging road trip tonight in New York, the first of four games against the wild-card leading Yankees.

    Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.
  5. Bucs' O.J. Howard says in NFL, 'it's an SEC game every day'

    Blogs

    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard hasn't played in an NFL game yet, but he already appreciates the grind of an NFL season -- every week can be a loss, perhaps more so than in college football, where Alabama went 12-0 in nonconference, non-bowl games in his three years there.

    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard, shown playing for Alabama in the national championship game in Tampa in January, says every game in the NFL is an SEC game, with no letdowns.