Political Animal


June 23, 2012 7:19 AM The jury finds Jerry Sandusky totally guilty

By Kathleen Geier

Last night, a jury found the odious Jerry Sandusky guilty of 45 out of 48 sexual abuse charges. In related news, yesterday Monsignor William J. Lynn, a former aide to the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, was found guilty of child endangerment charges, for his role in covering up the crimes of pedophile priests.

Eight of Sandusky’s victims bravely came forward and put themselves through the ordeal of testifying in the trial. It’s exceedingly likely, though, that there were many more victims; at least one of them was his own adopted son, Matt Sandusky, who was willing to testify about the abuse in court. In the coming years, these victims and others who have not yet gone public are virtually certain to hit up Penn State with an astronomical bill for a legal settlement, and rightfully so. But since Penn State is a public institution, it’s the taxpayers who ultimately will be footing the tab. Sandusky’s monstrous crimes are horrifying enough, and the fact that they were enabled for so long by so many people is grotesque. But the fact that taxpayers will, in effect, end up paying for them is what really sticks in my craw.

One more footnote: so long as we’re on the subject of sexual abuse, I want to link to this excellent piece by Slate’s Emily Yoffe (she’s their “Dear Prudence” columnist) about how she was sexually molested three times as a child and teen and yet never told her family or went to the cops. I am sorry to report that one of the men who assaulted her was the late Father Robert Drinan, a former Congressman, Jesuit priest, and pro-choice liberal icon. I’d always admired Drinan — he seemed to exemplify the best of the Vatican II type priest that, sadly, Popes John Paul and Benedict have all but driven out of the Church. But after reading Yoffe’s all-too-credible-sounding account, I can’t continue to have the high regard for Drinan I once did. And the non-denial denial issued by Drinan’s family tends, if anything, to add credibility to Yoffe’s story, rather than detract from it.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • Just Dropping By on June 23, 2012 8:57 AM:

    Sorry, but why specifically mention that Drinan was pro-choice? That detail isn't essential to your discussion of him and I can already see this being used to say that pro-choice advocates are most likely child molesters looking to cover up the "by-product" of their crimes against underage girls.

  • c u n d gulag on June 23, 2012 9:00 AM:

    It must be positions of power that make these people, male and female, feel that they can do this, and get away with it.
    That, and those peoples' weaknesses and proclivities.
    And maybe a hint of more, of sociopathic tendencies.

    I'll speak for myself, because it may not be every person, or every male, but like many middle-aged males, if I look at an attractive HS or College girl (woman), sometimes, like Jimmy Carter, I 'lust in my heart.'
    Other examples, see "Lolita," and "American Beauty," and countless other plays, books, and movies.
    The same goes for when I was younger.

    But I don't act upon it, and like to think I never would.

    When I was teaching as a sub in HS, and as an Adjunct in College, and when I was directing College plays, I had attractive young ladies come on to me.

    But, like I said above, I didn't act upon it. Though, to be honest, I may have thought about for a split-second or two.
    But I didn't feel that I could. And I damn well knew that I shouldn't! It is WRONG! (And, btw - I'm NOT religious).
    I'm older.
    Supposedly wiser, and more in control.
    And I'm also, in those situations, a figure of authority - AND, someone who's responsible for the kids. Responsible in all ways!

    So, I can see how someone in power might feel tempted - male and female.
    We're ALL human.
    But most of us have a sense of control over ourselves, and a sense not only of societal responsibilities, but, if nothing else stops you, the fear of discovery and consequences.

    There's a hint of sociopathy in some of these people. And a lot more than a hint of it in others.
    One time - I may have some, some, level of forgiveness - like I said, we're ALL human.
    But more than once, and you're nothing but a sociopath and a monster.

    It's too bad we can't tell the people who can control themselves, from the ones who can't - and especially, from those who know no control at all, and don't feel any need to do so - and who only look at children and young adults, as prey, to feed whatever sexual hunger is in them.

  • j on June 23, 2012 9:05 AM:

    Santorum has kept a low profile of late, google Sandusky/Santorum connection.

  • Sammi on June 23, 2012 9:55 AM:

    Father Drinan taught Professional Responsibility at Georgetown Law.

  • berttheclock on June 23, 2012 10:12 AM:

    Horrible person is Sandusky and more in the Penn State system should fall due to their massive coverup.

    However, I disagree with the comment by Ms Geier, that the statement by Ann Drinan, the niece of the former Congressman and priests lends credence to the story by Ms Yoffe. I, also, find it very strange that a person would wait many years following the death of an alleged groper to make such an allegation in Slate. When, this alleged incident in the car occurred, Drinan was in a re-election campaign. He ran again in '76 and '78. Ms Yoffe could have brought this to the attention of the media and helped to derail his campaigns. I realize it is never easy for a victim to come forward, no matter the decade, but, at least, US Congressman Drinan would have been able to defend the charges.

    I still recall the horror of what the McMartin family and teachers of their pre-school facility had to endure due to false charges by well meaning parents. They were ruined by the lengthy court proceedings against them. Even after they were exonerated, one of the fathers in the parents' group, who was an excellent trial attorney, tried to keep the flames alive to bring "justice" to the parents. I happened to know him very well and it was largely due to the passion and prejudice of his wife that he fought, unsuccessfully, onward.

    BTW, Father Drinan abhorred abortion, but, realized under US law it was legal, so, he did support pro-choice. Remember well, as a US Congressman, he was the first to try to impeach Nixon, not for Watergate, but, for invading Cambodia.

  • JMG on June 23, 2012 10:20 AM:

    Dear Ms. Geier: The civil damages against Penn State should be paid by placing a surcharge on the price of every ticket sold to games at Beaver Stadium. In the final analysis, it was the football fans in those seats who created the culture where the university could not bear to deal with the truth about Sandusky.

  • DAY on June 23, 2012 10:27 AM:

    Like gulag, I am of a "certain age", but the grey cells not destroyed by alcohol still function, and the memory bank is full. Plus, it is a lovely Summer morn, so we can wax philosophical for a moment.

    There was time when drunkenness was mirthful (eg. Dean Martin's TV show), and even driving under the influence was tolerated by the public at large. "I had to drive home, I was too drunk to walk."
    MAD changed all that, and I believe started with the death of a single child.

    Sexual predation of the young has an even older history, and was (is?) often aided and abetted by society. The English "pubic schools" were training grounds for man on boy sex, as was the Royal Navy. Cabin Boys did more that serve the daily rum ration. Today they are called Altar Boys, and ditto the sacramental wine.

    Oscar Wilde's "love that dare not speak its name" is now gaily parading the streets, side by side with Shriners, Fourth of July veterans, and Columbus Day inebriates.

    So too- soon, soon, we hope!-will this sociopathy that gulag speaks of come out of the closet and into the 12 step programs, partake of group therapy sessions. Maybe even into the confessional, although let us not hold our breath on that one.

  • Blue UU on June 23, 2012 10:40 AM:

    I'm a professor at a state university in Ohio. I don't know how much Pennsylvania contributes to their state universities anymore, but Ohio lowers the State Share of Instruction every few years; currently it is in between 10% and 20% of total revenue. A great deal of the revenue brought in by universities is tuition, followed by a mixture of donations, sponsored research dollars, which are a mix of federal funds and, increasingly, corporate support, in addition to grants and interest income from the endowment. So tax money is only a very small portion of the money that any public university has to draw from for lawsuits or otherwise. Most likely Penn State has liability insurance which will cover this, and the result of their premiums going up will be higher tuition. You're contributing to the misleading idea that universities are completely on the public dole, and nothing could be further from the truth these days.

  • Steve P on June 23, 2012 10:45 AM:

    "But since Penn State is a public institution, itís the taxpayers who ultimately will be footing the tab."

    A public institution that had become a private playground for a club of developmentally arrested adolescents--This should have caused a few heads to roll:

    It didn't. The taxpayers of Pennsylvania will be paying for Sandusky and many other Old Boys for years to come--almost none of whom will face imprisonment in anything more onerous than a well-upholstered den, furnished with televisions and autographed pictures.

    It would be nice to think that the taxpayer/suckers would step up and demand real oversight of their property, instead of a chorus or two of a fight song, but I doubt it.

    As it is, we can only hope that that there won't be candlelit vigils in the campus bars for poor old Jerry.

  • Percysowner on June 23, 2012 10:59 AM:

    If true my respect for Father Drinan is less. However, I don't see the statement from his niece as in any way confirmatory. Father Drinan has been dead for many years. As a Catholic Priest he was supposed to refrain from any sexual activity. It is unlikely that he would talk to his niece if he did behave inappropriately. He wasn't charged, so there was no reason for him to talk to anyone about what happened. This puts his family in the position to neither confirm nor deny what has been said. Their remark was appropriate, that with Father Drinan being dead there is no way to defend against the allegations.

    I am in no way questioning Emily Yoffe's account. But I think it is pushing things to say the family's response bolsters it. To me they simply have no way of knowing if it is true or not and they want to defend the honor of a family member.

  • stratplayer on June 23, 2012 11:09 AM:

    If you are going to repeat Emily Joffe's allegation against Father Drinan, you ought to be as clear as she was about the fact that she was not a minor at the time of the incident. That is no small omission when you're discussing it in the context of a post on child sexual abuse.

  • zandru on June 23, 2012 11:58 AM:

    @JMG: "a surcharge on the price of every ticket"

    That's a brilliant idea! Make it a percentage, so that folks in the expensive seats and who buy season tickets pay proportionately more.

    @DAY: By segue-ing directly from "sexual predation to the young" to "the love that dare not speak its name", you're equating pedophilia with homosexuality. Don't do that.

  • dalloway on June 23, 2012 12:28 PM:

    Hmm. What do organizations like the Penn State football program, the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn currently embroiled in a sex scandal and the Catholic church all have in common? Guessed yet? Yep. They're run exclusively by men -- men whose first response is always to protect themselves and their power before helping the abused. Yet the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jews continue to insist that women aren't qualified to be leaders. They're digging their own graves -- and good riddance.

  • Patrick Star on June 23, 2012 12:55 PM:

    And to think, a lot of this (but certainly not all) could have been avoided if Joe Paterno, the self-appointed Emperor For Life of the Penn State athletic department, would have done the right thing and followed the proper procedures to get Sandusky removed from the program and referred to law enforcement. The Penn State administration tried to talk Paterno into retiring, but didn't have the cajones to just can the guy when he refused. In the meantime, the once-great football program was in a slow decline, coached by an arrogant, obstinate 80+ year old egomaniac who couldn't even stand on the sidelines without the risk of getting injured by accident. And of course, he was fawned over by the Mainstream Sports Media, who lionized him as some sort of great patriarchal father figure, feeding into the storyline of deference to authority. You would think by now, after all the revelations of the Catholic abuse scandals and other abuses of trust by people in power, that it's unwise to put authority figures on a pedestal of absolute power and freedom from accountability, but we don't seem to be learning that lesson quickly enough to save future victims from harm.

  • Neildsmith on June 23, 2012 2:03 PM:

    I'm in my mid forties and simply cannot ever remember being alone with an adult - priest, coach, teacher... whatever - when I was a child. It just never happened that I was in that kind of situation. It amazes me that parents give their kids away like that, but... whatever.

    I am saddened by the abuse these kids suffered, but lots of people are exposed to violence, accidents, and all manner of terrible things. We should encourage those victims to be resilient and yet all this terrible publicity, pity, and "scarred for life" type commentary seems to encourage them to wallow in suffering. Buck up! Life is way too short to obsess about the past.

  • schtick on June 23, 2012 2:06 PM:

    The one thing I thought about when they announced the verdict for Sandusky was the other people involved that knew this was going on and ignored it. We are of a culture that priests are held accountable for covering up pedophile priests, but people involved with football/sports are not held accountable for covering up pedophiles.

  • TCinLA on June 23, 2012 2:12 PM:

    There was a story the other week about a guy who had been abused (with his brother) by a priest when they were 4 and 6 year olds (the pervert forced them to have sex with each other, destroying their lives as brothers). He tracked down the perpetrator, now living in a comfortable Catholic retirement home for pervert priests, and beat the PoS within an inch of his life. He's now being charged with attempted murder and the retired priest says he "has no idea" why this happened.

    Last week, Pope Ratzi the Nazi told a conference of Irish Catholics that "it's a mystery" to him how the child abuse perpetrated by priests and orphanages and schools of the Irish church for the past 80 years against those it was charged with protecting happened.

    Too bad we weren't given the treat of seeing the true author of the Philadelphia crimes, Cardinal Bevilacqua, the man who ordered the cover-up of AT LEAST 37 KNOWN PEDOPHILE PRIESTS (according to a list the Monsignor drew up in 1994), stand before the bar of justice. I would have loved to see the "dearly beloved" Cardinal Mahoney here in Los Angeles face charges for his crimes against his flock. These people make the crimes of the Borgias look like Sunday school picnics (and of course the abuse was likely going on then, too).

    As to Sandusky, I give him a year before one of his fellow inmates - many of whom are the victims of scum like him - gives him "true justice" and shanks him in the showers.

    With any luck at all, the rest of those abused will sue Penn State's football program out of existence. I wonder what all the "fans" who thought Paterno was "hounded" think of that place now.

  • Anonymous on June 23, 2012 2:27 PM:

    Neildsmith: You have no idea whatsoever of what you are talking about, by your own admission, so my advice to you is to STFU.

    In fact, I can personally testify to the lifelong results of childhood abuse. Without going into more detail than folks here need, I'll just say that finding out 20 years ago that my mother's best friend suspected "something was going on" from the way my siblings and I acted when it came time for Mommie Dearest to come over and pick us up from an afternoon with "Aunt Liz" was a liberating thing. Of course, back in those days no one made such accusations, particuarly against their best friend and sorority sister. I can also attest to the lifelong damage such abuse did to many of the people who passed through my life (it's really true that "birds of a feather flock together"). Many of the people I grew up with, as they approach the 50th anniversary of their high school graduation, have come out and spoken of what was happening to them. Interestingly it's about 20% of the class, which correlates with reported rates of such abuse.

    So, Neil D. Smith, only someone who has no goddamn clue what they are spouting off about would ever say "just deal with it." The violation of trust by the ultimate authority figures in a child's life twists everything in how they deal with the world ever after, in ways they have no way of "just dealing with" since they aren't that obvious.

    You moron.

  • TCinLA on June 23, 2012 2:30 PM:

    anonymous above is me

  • Neildsmith on June 23, 2012 2:59 PM:

    Well, anonymous or TCinLA, you are free to wallow in self-pity for the rest of your life. I wouldn't dare suggest you do otherwise.

  • TCinLA on June 23, 2012 4:36 PM:

    Always nice to watch a moron celebrate their ignorance in public, you worthless asshole. You're stupid enough, you must be a Republican.

  • Bmaccnm on June 23, 2012 6:52 PM:

    To neildsmith- A broken bone leaves a scar. A burn leaves a scar. A cut leaves a scar. Damage leaves scars. Acknowledging that I have a scar from childhood abuse is like acknowledging that I have a scar from a car accident in my twenties. This is not self-pity. This is honesty.

    I don't know what you mean when you say "just deal with it." Do you mean "ignore it"? Do you mean, "It makes me uncomfortable, so don't talk about it"? Do you mean, "Shut up about it, because we might lose our winning team"? What exactly would you have those who have been abused do?

    I recovered from my car accident, but I did not ever regain the 100% function I had before that drunken man T-boned my car in an intersection. I recovered from my childhood abuse, but I do not have 100%function of my ability to trust or to love. That's what scars do, and they do not go away.

    So, please be more honest. What do you mean by "just deal with it" ? and what would you have us do?

  • Sean Scallon on June 23, 2012 6:59 PM:

    "he seemed to exemplify the best of the Vatican II type priest that, sadly, Popes John Paul and Benedict have all but driven out of the Church."

    You still sure about that?

  • Neildsmith on June 23, 2012 7:19 PM:

    Bmaccnn - I did not say "just deal with it". I said we "should encourage the victims to be resilient..."

    I said "Buck up!" I said, "Life is way too short to obsess about the past."

    The whole purpose of therapy or treatment for a physical or emotional injury is to help the patient/victim recover and go on to live a fulfilling life. I read the articles comments about people lives being destroyed or otherwise being told that they are damaged goods and wonder if that is the right message to the victims. That was my only point. It was media criticism.

    So sorry to have offended. The comment section of a political blog isn't a place to debate the treatment of abuse victims. Nor, frankly, is it the best place for victims to seek solace from strangers.

  • TCinLA on June 23, 2012 8:16 PM:

    Further proof of your moron stupidity, Neil. No one was "seeking solace" here. Had you not paraded your ignorance in public here, no one would have said anything.

  • Neildsmith on June 23, 2012 8:48 PM:

    I always know I'm right when they come back to call me a moron. Thanks! See - I'm resilient. I can take the abuse.

  • renrph on June 23, 2012 9:56 PM:

    For someone who has not been an innocent, guileless child subjected to the betrayal and violation of evil adults to say that those who have should "buck up" shows incredible insensitivity. No one gets to tell another person how much their trauma is supposed to have harmed them and no one gets to tell them how quickly they are supposed to recover. Wow, man, just wow.

  • Colin Watley on June 23, 2012 10:33 PM:

    Neildsmith, I'm guessing you've had many many opportunities to learn how right you are. You just keep thinking there, it's what you're good at.

  • Neildsmith on June 23, 2012 10:34 PM:

    Really - you all really need me to post this basic common sense? Wow, man, just wow. There is a difference between sympathy, empathy, and enabling. Go ahead and tell a young victim of a crime that there is no possibility of recovery; that they are damaged goods incapable of having a normal life because of some terrible experience. How does that help them?

    "When we allow ourselves to be victims, we are letting the people and circumstances in our lives dictate how we will feel, and ultimately, who we will be. Nobody � no matter how hard they try � can ever make someone else feel something that they don't want to feel. Think about that for a moment. You are ultimately capable to respond to much greater degrees than you do. True responsibility can be redefined to mean your ability to respond, fully capable to respond powerfully to the occurrences of your life. Because you are the only one able to choose your feelings and your responses to what is happening right now. We have all heard people say, "You make me mad." Or, "Don't make me feel guilty." But the truth is that no one can make us feel something � good or bad � unless we allow them to.

    More accurately, we're the ones at the helm of our feelings. We get to choose to feel mad or happy, bad or good. But this choice is only possible when we first choose to be response able, able to respond to this moment's occurrence. To relinquish this ability to respond is what makes being a victim appear possible. Now I'm not saying that there aren't people out there who are genuine victims of crimes or injustices; I am saying that our response to each moment's occurrences, circumstances, situations, events, scenarios or people is what defines us. Remember, at root, nothing in life is ever just happening to us. In short, we create our realities by virtue of who we're choosing to show up as, moment by moment. Who we're being dictates the thoughts we hold in our minds, the words we say and the actions we take. If we show up knowing life to be hard, and the obstacles we face are roadblocks, then we will stay stuck in that place of defeat."


  • Matt on June 23, 2012 11:02 PM:

    It's been said already, but since there's no reason to believe Drinan's family had any knowledge of the behavior Yoffe describes, they can't be blamed for defending him. It's cheap to call their statement a "non-denial denial," since to issue a clear denial would be to call a self-identified victim of sexual assault a liar. Even to say nothing would look like a cowardly way of admitting the truth of something they may very well find impossible to believe.

    There's a real and unfortunate tendency, when someone does something especially bad, to blame the family of the perpetrator. Oh, they should have known, they should have said something, they must have suspected, why didn't they stop this, etc. It's just another form of victim-shaming.

  • renrph on June 24, 2012 7:01 AM:

    Saying that people need time to heal properly is not the same thing as saying that "there is no possibility of recovery" -- it just means that you can't cure a broken leg by telling someone to "buck up." This is particularly true when it involves children who are assaulted by those who have been entrusted with their care and safety and don't tell anyone about it for years because of the shame involved. You really need me to post this common sense?

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