Today a judge in Pennsylvania sentenced former Penn State University Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys over the course of his career. The picture above is that of a monster and he will rot in jail until God takes him from this earth.
As a victim of sexual abuse many years ago, this day couldn’t have come soon enough. It was just under a year ago that I took a leap of faith and revealed on MSNBC that I too had been through the same thing those 10 boys had gone through. I said at the the time that I allowed the abuse to happen over a number of years and never took steps to stop it until I reached an age where I knew what my abuser was doing was morally wrong. I stand by that statement and am not ashamed of what happened to me nor am I ashamed that I let it happen to me. It’s a part of my life and while it was tragic and hurtful, I forgave that evil man many years ago and put his fate in God’s hands.
Jerry Sandusky’s fate is now determined. He will never walk out of a prison as a free man again. Judge John Cleland said “The crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyches and their souls and the assault to the well-being of the larger community in which we all live.” Cleland is right on, specifically about the “larger community” where this type of grotesque behavior happens daily.
It begs the question: had Sandusky not been such a prominent figure within the Penn State family, would his actions have caused the amount of publicity they did? Probably not. And that’s the triumph and the tragedy that we have to realize. Countless kids are abused every single day and yet no one speaks up. That’s the tragedy. The triumph is that because of Sandusky’s fame, thousands of watchful eyes will be turned on in our locker rooms, in our parish halls, in our school corridors.
Sandusky’s victims may now move on. Some of them will and some of them won’t. I don’t judge them either way. Instead, I think of how I handled my own abuse and how it affects me in the future. I’m not sure of the answer to that except to say that I don’t think about the man that violated me everyday. He didn’t make me a gay man and he doesn’t play a significant role in my life today as a 45-year old grown man. But if this sort of thing could happen to me, I fear the spotlight will fade and that it will keep happening to our children.
And that’s why today, justice has been served in a narrow sense. Today we close the door on Sandusky. Today we cannot close the door on this national tragedy. If we do, there will be thousands more Sandusky’s and that’s even more tragic.