The Penn State Scandal: What You Need To Know

Right now, the internet is blowing up about a bunch of stuff happening in the city of State College, PA. Namely, things that are happening at Penn State University. From scandal, to firings to what’s escalated into a riot, the whole thing can be a bit much to process.

But in the interest in helping you decode everything, here’s the basics.

The Major Players:

There’s a lot of people involved in the scandal, but the big names you need to know are

  • Jerry Sandusky: a former Penn State football coach who started a sports camp for young boys. He is accused of sexually molesting 8 boys over a 15-year-period.
  • Joe Paterno: The long-time head coach at Penn State who apparently knew about the abuses, but did not report them to the police. His level of participation in and blame for the scandal is being highyl debated. He was fired on Wednesday, November 9th.
  • Tim Curley: athletic director at Penn State, accused of covering up the scandal since 2002.
  • Jim Calhoun: a temporary employee at Penn State who reportedly witnessed an instance of the abuse in a shower in 2000 and reported it to his superiors, who then reportedly failed to inform anyone else.

The Events:

NPR has a much more in-depth timeline which you should check out, but basically: Both before and following his retirement in 1999, Sandusky was witnessed sexually molesting and abusing young boys. These actions were witnessed in 2000 by Jim Calhoun, a janitor, who reported them to his superior and by a graduate student in 2002 who reported the incident to Joe Paterno, who passed the news on to Tim Curley. After the 2002 incident, Sandusky’s keys to the locker room are confiscated and he is banned from bringing children onto the Penn State Campus. But the incidents are not reported to the police or a child protection agency, which violates PA state law.

A grand jury case began late last year. However, it was not until November 5th of this year that the case becomes public. Curley and another collegue involved in the cover-up vacate their posts and are charged with making false statements to a grand jury and for failing to report the child abuse.

Joe Paterno had announced he would retire at the end of the current football season, however on November 9th he was fired from his position, effective immediately.

The Fall Out:

While much of the case has hinged on Sandusky being guilty of child molestation, much of the coverage and resulting outrage has been over Joe Paterno’s involvement. Many people have been questioning whether or not he should be punished.

Wednesday night saw riots on the Penn State campus…caused by the school’s firing of Joe Paterno. Much of their focus was on the media, who they felt exaggerated Paterno’s role in the scandal, leading to his firing.

HOWEVER, a number of Penn State students and alumni have also come together to form #ProudPSUforRAINN to help raise money to fight rape and abuse, hoping to prove that “Penn State is way bigger than the alleged actions of a few people. To honor the victims, our goal is to raise over $500,000 – one dollar for each of Penn State’s 557,000 alumni.”

Actor Ashton Kutcher has also come under fire from the internet for Tweeting out the following:

People feel that Kutcher’s support of Paterno in spite of his part in the scandal is troubling, especially considering Kutcher’s own partcipation in the anti-child slavery group the DNA Foundation. Kutcher has since apologized for the Tweet, claiming he didn’t know the whole story before he sent it out.

There’s a ton of resources who could give you better information, I already mentioned NPR’s great timeline of events and since there’s been a media blitz on this you can find news pretty much anywhere. Inform yourself.