How could Jerry Sandusky get away with it for so long?
To understand how Jerry was able to hide his outrageous conduct, one has to understand the nature of Happy Valley. Although this area offers many of the same amenities as a large city, at heart it is a small town. Every one knows everyone, which creates huge conflicts of interest. Everyone plays multiple roles and has multiple interest to look out for; and when you have more than one master to answer to, you cannot answer to any.
So when people look at Penn State and wonder why it did not do more, those officials tasked with the duty also had an interest in “The Second Mile.” Penn State is Second Mile and Second Mile is Penn State. Any action that would benefit one, would hurt the other. So what do we get, half measures that purport to deal with the issue but in reality is just sweeping it under the rug. Ban Mr. Sandusky from bringing boys onto campus and hope it goes away because if this goes further, “The Second Mile” will get hurt, which in turn, will hurt Penn State.
Standing alone this would not fully explain how Jerry remained at large for so long to prey on the innocent. One must also understand another aspect of Happy Valley culture, it is something I call “polite inbreeding.” Every one born and raised here, knows everybody else and being polite people, refuse to publicly speak ill of one another, no matter what the circumstance. It is just not done.
When a local business man gets himself appointed to the board of “The Second Mile” and then awards his own company contracts to do business with “The Second Mile.” What should be the appropriate reaction, one of disgust or approval? Most sensible people would see it for what it is, self dealing. A person using his influence and gaining a position of trust in order to line his own pockets. Here, we laud him as a philanthropist.
When residents have doubts about Mr. Sandusky and his behavior. Do they say anything? No, because look at all the good he is doing, how could he have ulterior motives. He is one of us and we are good. Just look around. It is better off left unsaid.
The lion remains free to hunt.
The media frenzy on this scandal makes it appear that the whole mess begins and ends at Joe’s door. It does not. It begins and ends at all of our doors. In the wake of 9/11, New York City began a campaign in regards to terrorism. If you see something, say something. It is a slogan we here in Happy Valley should take to heart.
A good piece on Sandusky and his life in State College: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20111120__2.html?cmpid=125219969