One year ago today our town and University changed. It wasn’t a small change it was a nuclear bomb of a change. On this night Joe Paterno was fired and thus started a chain of events than even our best writers could not have imagined. I have gone through the gamut of emotions as I am sure many of us who live here have done. What I want to do here is recap some of the things I feel now. One year ago I ran down College Ave., camera in hand, looking for the overturned Van in the street. As I approached, about 2 blocks away, I smelled the gas. When I saw the truck I knew things had changed in our town. This was different. I have witnessed the War protests of the 60’s and 70’s on Old Main Lawn, I saw the other riots in State College and this one was on a different level. State College was hung out there for the world to see and they were watching. It hurt to see this in my town. The town I grew up in, the town where I learned to drive, the streets I grew up on, the town where I graduated High School and the University I graduated from. My friends, this was a gut wrenching change and I was in the middle of it. I saw everything from the front row and continue to do so. Believe me, there is much more to come.
I read all the reports, the investigations, the indictments, the court transcripts and everything I can get my hands on. I want to know what happened here. Why did it happen? I just need to know. What caused all this misery and pain? How could one man be so insane? How could the University do so many stupid things? Why, why, why are we all being punished? Knowledge is all I seek. I think we all just want the truth and let us figure it out.
The Trial. I was at Sandusky’s trial every day. I watched him change right before my eyes. He started out smiling and smirking as the jury selection began and he kept at it right up until about 2 days before the verdict. Then he got serious all of a sudden. No smiling, he knew it was over. When he came in the Courthouse for the last time a free man, holding Dottie’s hand, you could see the fear in his face and doom in his heart. Then when he came out in cuffs, it was like the lights went out. I describe it as empty. He was empty. He looked hollow, everything was drained from him. It finally hit him as he walked to that car as a prisoner. Thousands of images were shot in that short walk he took and they were distributed, world wide, within minutes. The world now knew the man was guilty. I was surprised by the emotion when he came out the back door on the way to the car. People showed up to yell at him. The emotion cracked in their voices as he walked past. It was something I will never forget.
The Sentencing: I wanted to see him in that jumpsuit, in those cuffs. I wondered if he knew the depth of the pain he had caused. Not just the victims, but everything else. Does he have any comprehension of what his acts have done? Any? He looked different. He looked smaller, older and beaten down. He lost weight, he looked grayer and I noticed his hands. I guess he had lotion on them and his fingers looked very thin and shiny. It was really odd. I was surprised and disappointed by the sentence he received. The Judge said it didn’t make sense to sentence him to a ridiculous amount of years, because any sentence would be a life sentence. I disagree. I think a sentence of 350 years is pretty meaningful to the victims. “You are sentenced to 350 years, your body can be claimed in the year 2362 and your casket will be encased in steel bars and buried in a unmarked grave, on prison ground until that time.” I think that is a pretty graphic and just sentence. That sends a message. So, he is off to a Maximum security prison where he will send 23 hours a day, in his cell, alone. He eats in his cell, he gets 3 showers a week. I guess that is as a close to Hell as you can get on Earth. He can have visitors, but can touch no one. He says he’s innocent, he is going to appeal. Everyone lied just to get him. Big conspiracy. If the University was out to get him, it would be like cutting off your head to lose weight. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t wait to hear what his adopted son has to say, at the trail, if the appear goes on. Yes, Jerry we all want to hear that. He has the right, but maybe he just wants to see some trees after looking at those walls all day.
Spanier. Oh God this is going to be good. Spanier and Corbett have hated each other for years. This is going to be a war with no winners. This is going to get very interesting. Why is it that we thought the University was a well oiled machine when ,in reality, it was run worse than Enron? God the mistakes and miscues are mind boggling. Spanier, Curley and Schultz may all get off because the University attorney (Baldwin) was in the room during their testimony. They all thought she was representing them and she says she was representing the University. She was not allowed to be in the room unless she was representing them. Nobody knew that? What? These guys thought she was there for them and she wasn’t? The University is paying their legal fees, why doesn’t any of this make sense? All of the charges could be dropped because of this. Really. Then the other lawyer they called (Courtney) in Feb. 2001 makes a note on his billing sheet, (2.9 hrs. report of suspected child abuse). Jesus, they weren’t talking about preventing child abuse, they were talking about the second incident.
Joe. Unfortunately, I think he is going to get dumped on. Look for them all to throw Joe under the Bus. This is the saddest part of the story. The statue removal was just wrong and done in the worst way possible. The truth will be become clear and who knows where it will lead. I just want to know what happened and when. It’s sad when you go by the old statue site. It’s even worse when you go to the grave site. I feel bad for Joe, but he feels no pain now and I think this would probably bring him great heartache. I do wish he could have really told his side of the story in full. We may never know what he really thought and did and that is the sad part. The whole thing, with Joe, was just plain sad.
The Freeh report: What a rip off. They charged the University over $6 million dollars for that? Really? How easy is it to spend $6 Million dollars? The Board of Trustees accepts it, before they even read it. The NCAA applies sanctions based on it. The University President accepts the sanctions. Let’s move on is the motto now. WHAT? Stop this madness. All of this is based on one view that has been picked apart. Nothing under oath, no key players talked to and we should move on? Everyone is insane. Rush, rush, rush…..WHY? We are learning more everyday and there is a ton more to come. We have heard very little about the Second Mile, virtually nothing. Why? The Feds are investigating them. Subpoenas, due process, the whole mess is coming down on them and it’s going to be very ugly. The Judge told us this. So, now that we are all “moving on” and the football team is doing well, we are all getting over this mess. Not so fast, more shoes will be dropping soon. It will be years before we can really move on.
So, one year ago this came down on us. It showed that we are strong and are a united group. We are still proud of who we are and where we come from. Our people have good hearts and clear minds. This plague that was dropped on us did not destroy us. It took us to the edge, but we are fighting back and we will continue. Yes, there is more to come. The victims will, hopefully, find peace. The town will recover, the University will not disappear, and we will grow from this. It’s just damn hard to watch it sometimes. My awakening was one year ago when the Van was overturned in the middle of College Ave. My saddest day was when Joe died. Everything is fragile, our lives, our hopes , our safety and our way of life. I just hope I am not writing about this 1 year from now. I have a feeling that’s not going to happen.