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Feds must investigate Penn State

Jason Whitlock offers up his opinion on Joe Paterno and Penn State.
Jason Whitlock offers up his opinion on Joe Paterno and Penn State.
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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.

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If you have followed the sensational journalistic work of Sara Ganim regarding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, you realize we have no reason to trust the people of Pennsylvania to properly investigate the possible cover-up that allowed Sandusky to allegedly prey on kids for nearly two decades.

Ganim's latest story for The Patriot-News outlines the numerous wasted opportunities — the first in 1995 — to fully investigate the former assistant to Joe Paterno. The story is damning with facts. Over the years, there have been multiple eyewitnesses to Sandusky’s alleged crimes. In 1998, a lead investigator, Detective Ron Schreffler, hid in a room and heard Sandusky ask a victim’s mother for forgiveness.

“I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness from you. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead,” Ganim’s story quoted Sandusky as saying to the mother.

Ganim’s story mentions that former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar went missing in 2005, was declared dead this year, and that a member of his family said Gricar did not like Paterno or the football program.

I cannot do Ganim’s story justice. Read the whole thing. When you’re done, ask yourself why we should trust anyone in Pennsylvania, anyone with the slightest connection to or affinity for Paterno and Penn State, to get to the bottom of this tragedy.

There should be a federal investigation into what appears to be a cover-up. There is no reason for the public to place any faith in the internal investigation announced Friday afternoon by Penn State's interim president.

President Barack Obama loves to espouse opinions about the sports world. He has threatened to use his weight to influence a college football playoff. Every year we watch President Obama and ESPN’s Andy Katz fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. We know that President Obama wanted LeBron James to join the Chicago Bulls.

It’s time for President Obama to address a sports issue of substance and significance. He should demand that US Attorney General Eric Holder launch a comprehensive, criminal investigation into the Paterno State Tragedy.

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We’re talking about the alleged molestation of children that transpired on a college campus for years. This is the worst scandal in the history of sports.

Is it not clear that allegiance to the Penn State football program caused some level of negligence and/or corruption as it relates to Jerry Sandusky? Is it not clear that protection of Joe Paterno’s legacy/reputation seems to be a driving force in the investigation that conveniently reached a crescendo one week after Paterno secured his place as the winningest coach in major college football?

Only the Pennsylvania State Police had the courage to briefly steer off message and state that Paterno did not do enough in 2002 when a graduate assistant told him Sandusky did something of a “sexual nature” with a naked boy in the locker room shower. The district attorney prosecuting Sandusky went out of her way to issue public exonerations of Paterno.

Why?

We don’t need a sanitized investigation into what transpired at Penn State. The only way to scare other small towns and powerful universities seduced by college football’s riches and fame from coddling a potential predator is for the whole ugly truth to spill out and for the people responsible to be held fully accountable.

We can’t leave this task to the emasculated media, particularly the sports media. We don’t have the power of subpoena or the necessary resources and backbone.

With ESPN as our Worldwide Leader, we are all far more interested in promoting fairy tales and protecting our business interests. You can see the Worldwide Leader’s corrosive impact on our best and brightest alleged “journalists.” Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski, my former colleague at the Kansas City Star, has thrown a weeklong blog tantrum because his plan to write the next “Tuesdays with Morrie,” starring JoePa, has been blown up by the Sandusky controversy. Let me be fair. Posnanski claims he’s upset because the media have been irresponsibly unfair to JoePa and not enough of JoePa’s friends have been courageous enough to publicly defend the legendary coach. (Maybe they’ve privately expressed their support to their immediate supervisor?)

Posnanski, who secured a lucrative book deal to write about Paterno, has been in State College for months researching the feel-good biography he and his publisher planned to release on Father’s Day. You would think an award-winning, celebrated “journalist” positioned in State College for months and researching Paterno for years would be perfectly positioned to chronicle this tragedy.

Sara Ganim first wrote about the Sandusky grand jury investigation in March. She reported that Paterno testified in front of the grand jury in January. An astute Pittsburgh radio shock, Mark Madden, connected the dots on how the Sandusky investigation might impact Paterno in an April column published in another Pennsylvania newspaper.

What and/or whom was Posnanski researching? How can he be caught off guard that Paterno’s world is collapsing? A radio shock jock figured out what a singularly focused “journalist” couldn’t. Really?

The watchdogs of our democracy can no longer be counted on to watch.

American media are the worldwide leader in ethical conflicts.

That’s why we need President Obama, Eric Holder and a federal investigation.

Joe Paterno is too beloved in Pennsylvania to trust an investigation this important to state officials. They don’t deserve another opportunity to botch the Sandusky investigation.

Tagged: Penn State

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