Where is the next Sandusky?

“They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again and when they do it –
seems that only the children weep.”

-Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Remember when sports pundits called the Penn State football program squeaky clean? The famous Paterno creed, “winning with honor” served as the high standard for collegiate football.

Then, the Sandusky scandal erupted. The proud and pristine tradition of PSU is now forever tarnished by its child predator, Jerry Sandusky.

Where and when will the next Jerry Sandusky emerge? Sadly, Sandusky is not an outlier, unique to Penn State. Although he was a prominent defensive coordinator who served under the nation’s most revered college coach, his criminal behavior mimics the classic pedophile profile. Jerry Sandusky, stripped of his title, is your garden variety child perp.

While the country was focused on Penn State, a number of colleges were dealing with their own child sex scandals. The stories are numbingly similar; knowledge of predatory behavior and delays in reporting child predators to law enforcement. It is time for universities to start paying attention or face the loss of reputation and endowment in the process. Here is a troubling lineup:

University of Michigan
The Board of Regents recently ordered an external investigation of the six-month reporting delay of child pornography discovered on an employee’s thumb drive. The employee, Stephen Jenson, was a University of Michigan Hospital pediatric resident. At least eight university employees, including a university lawyer, knew of the child pornography allegedly on Jenson’s computer in May 2011, but did not notify the police. The matter was reopened in November and finally reported to university police after doctors at the University of Michigan hospital read about the Sandusky scandal. Jenson is now charged in a federal criminal complaint with receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography. The U.S. Department of Education is also investigating the University of Michigan for the delay in reporting the crime. Sound familiar?

Citadel University
Recently, officials at The Citadel admitted they did not do enough after learning that an employee who has been accused of sexually abusing at least five boys in recent years, was brought to the school’s attention back in 2007. An internal university investigation was conducted, but police were never informed. Louis ReVille, a 2002 graduate of The Citadel, was hired by the college as a camp counselor for three summers, from 2001 to 2003. According to Citadel documents, he lured boys to his room with pizza and Chinese food to view pornography and performed sex acts. The former coach who once worked as a summer camp counselor at The Citadel military college was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse crimes involving 23 young male victims. In November of 2011, the school said it had investigated accusations against ReVille in 2007 but took no action.

Sound familiar?

Where children play, predators lurk. Jerry Sandusky’s playground was Second Mile Charity and Penn State. Thousands of disadvantaged and neglected children belonged to the Second Mile Foundation. Jerry had free rein with young boys on the campus and Penn State served as the playground for a dangerous mix of vulnerable children and a powerful predator.

The massive influx of children on college campuses
The size and scope of the population of children on universities is staggering, as Penn State proudly advertises on its athletic department website:

“Parents, are you looking for a way your children can build self-confidence, learn about and develop skills in activities they enjoy, and make new friends in a fun environment. Every year more than 220, 000 youth have memorable Penn State experiences with Penn State faculty, staff, and graduate students who care about helping youth excel. School age youth can choose from more than 95 sports camps and dozens of hands-on programs in arts, theatre, science and engineering.”

Chilling, isn’t it?

Last summer 220,000 children participated in activities when child molester, Jerry Sandusky roamed and showered on campus. Sandusky’s many boy victims certainly never developed more “self confidence” or considered PSU a “fun environment.”

Nearly every university in the United States runs summer youth programs, everything from football to marching band camps. Every summer, millions of children participate in activities and live on college campuses. The recruitment of underage children to participate in and live on college campuses is big business for universities. These children’s camps generate huge revenue and provide a valuable recruitment tool for college teams.

Until Sandusky, the public didn’t realize that universities were rife with children. What are children doing on college campuses anyway?

The mission of universities is to educate young adults, by imparting knowledge and skills in a rigorous classroom setting and to prepare adult students for the world of work. Colleges are not qualified to operate and house summer sports camps for 8 year olds. Yet, colleges opened their doors to children without the training and knowledge to serve and protect young children. These college summer camps are glorified employment agencies for grad students, coaches and professors.

Every university board of trustees and administration should be both vigilant and terrified that one of its employees might be a Jerry Sandusky. Where is the next Jerry Sandusky… Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Pac12? Although you shouldn’t bet on college sports, the odds are great that many schools have a Coach Jerry.

For decades, Joe Paterno was Penn State football. He was the face of the football program. That football icon ended last year and now, Jerry Sandusky is the lasting image in State College, PA.

Legends die and legacies linger much longer.

© Elizabeth Yore-2012 All Rights Reserved. Elizabeth Yore is the former Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc., where she served as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate. She was also the former General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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7 thoughts on “Where is the next Sandusky?

  1. Mike Baker says:

    The next Sandusky is former Oregon Govenor Neil Goldschmidt. He admits in a Oregonian newspaper article of raping a 13 yr old. The people of Portland OR will tell you he raped kids as a tavern owner, Mayor of Portland and Govenor of Oregon. Neil was protected by the police and legislature…..

  2. duganfry says:

    Unfortunately for Penn State fans, the shocking nature of the Sandusky scandal will be felt for some time. The NCAA investigation, possible death penalty, and the Big10 contemplating removing them from the Big10 will have this story live on for quite some time. Amazing how one disgusting jerk (Jerry Sandusky) can take down a whole university. Had Joe and the rest of his ilk reported the crime when they first heard it, Penn State fans and alums would be going thru this heart ache.

  3. Duane says:

    Don’t let facts get in the way of a sensational story. “Last summer 220,000 children participated in activities when child molester, Jerry Sandusky roamed and showered on campus” is an irresponsible and outrageous statement. Sandusky’s victims were from the 2nd Mile charity that he founded and ran. While some instances DID occur on the Penn State campus, they could have occurred anywhere. I attended camps on several college campuses as a high school student and did “build self-confidence, learn about and develop skills in activities they enjoy, and make new friends in a fun environment.” It’s a sad statement on our society that children are molested in many seemingly ordinary situations: at school, at church, at church camps, sadly at home, at the mall.

    For disclosure, I am a Penn State alumnus and Catholic. I also think that anyone in the administration that didn’t report this to the police should be fired and if they covered it up, should go to jail for obstruction of justice.

    If anything can be learned from this, it is that FATHERS need to play an important role in their sons’ lives. The victims, drawn from the charity, were boys who were from broken homes, who didn’t have a father to be there as a protector or a role model. Much like a lion culling the weak from the herd of antelopes, molesters like Sandusky often go after the boys (or girls) from bad family situations and who don’t have involved parents to watch over them and protect them. Fathers, be involved! I’m hoping that by being involved in the lives of my own two sons, that I will prevent these types of horrible acts from being done to my kids.

  4. Mike Jarman says:

    You forget Frank Lombard, Duke University’s former associate director of the Center for Health Policy.

  5. Mara says:

    What an interesting post on this Catholic site. Perhaps the legacy of the Church cover-up of the sexual abuse of children is what’s left behind for the Church and the reason so many people around the world have chosen to speak up and question many ancient Catholic beliefs and dogmas. Is this indeed, what the Catholic Church will be remembered for?

  6. Chris says:

    OK I am a Catholic Penn State student (and proud of both!!) I acknowledge that the conviction an all is big news, but i must admit I am growing tired of the use of photographs and vocabulary that tie Sandusky to the university. This is a story of one child predator who failed to be stopped by one athletic director, one head of campus police and one university president. Those four parties do NOT represent the entirety of the athletic department, the university, and the student population. In my opinion this article would have more impact were it an article geared towards parents about caution about supervision and making sure there are multiple accountable adults surrounding their children and that they are never taken from plain sight of the public. Instead, this article leads off with an old picture of with Sandusky and the football team.

    1. Maryellen Schroeder says:

      I agree, Chris.
      Under the same argument, I am tired of all those who equate the entire Catholic church with the priest sex abuse scandals. I wonder if that might not have been Elizabeth Yore’s point. I doubt people are going to start to dismiss the influence or acumen of Penn State football as a result of Sandusky, yet so many do indeed dismiss the Church as a result of those few priests and bishops involved in scandal.

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