Sandusky sentencing offers no closure
In the end, the insane ramblings and denial of Jerry Sandusky don’t matter much.
On Tuesday morning, a judge sentenced him to a minimum of 30 years in prison. Sandusky, who’s 68, will not be free to hurt people ever again.
He didn’t apologize to the children he raped or molested, and three of them were there in the courtroom. He didn’t react at all. He doesn’t appear to be aware of the horror he has caused.
“We are going to smile through the pain,’’ Sandusky said to the judge before sentencing. “We’re going to laugh. We’re going to cry. Because that’s who we are.’’
He seems to think the pain is his. And it was similar to a recorded statement he made Monday to Penn State’s student radio station.
How do you feel about this? What do you see? He could have gotten more than 400 years. Thirty years, 45 counts? That’s only eight months per count. Three years per boy. A life sentence is a life sentence, but the bigger number would have made a better statement. A louder one that yelled out … rot in hell, Jerry Sandusky.
Maybe a statement like that could have broken through to Sandusky’s psyche and conscience, too. Probably not.
The scene was this: One victim in the courtroom said, he has “cried out to Jesus’’ for help in dealing with the pain Sandusky caused. One said to Sandusky, “I will not forgive you.’’ And one, according to ESPN, said, “I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body. The sentencing of Jerry Sandusky will never erase what he did to me. It will never make me whole. He took away my childhood when he assaulted me. And he should be sentenced accordingly.’’
See, there is no such thing as closure. If that’s what you were looking for here, you were never going to get it. Most importantly, the victims were never going to get it. And even the dense, blank look on Sandusky’s face is just too frustrating for its lack of understanding.
That’s what got me Monday night when Sandusky’s first statements came out on Penn State radio. Hearing him talk and seeing his comments — on Costas, on Penn State radio, and in court Tuesday – somehow sent my anger right past him and to Joe Paterno. And Mike McQueary. And Penn State’s former athletic director, Tim Curley, and president, Graham Spanier.
Do you know how you feel when you hear Sandusky talk? He seems to barely be in touch with reality at all. Paterno and McQueary and Penn State’s officials all had to see that too, for years.
I don’t feel sorry for Sandusky one bit. He’s where he should be, for life. But we also cannot stop the crazy thoughts of crazy people. We do have safeguards to stop their actions, though. Systems are in place.
But even bigger than that, and more responsible, people are in position of trust and authority.
Sandusky somehow was in one of those positions, as defensive coordinator at Penn State, and leader of the Second Mile charity for disadvantaged kids. But how was he able to stay in that position for so long?
They saw it. Paterno had to see, even after McQueary told him what he had seen Sandusky do to a boy in the showers. He saw it for years.
McQueary saw it, too. For years, he saw it. He saw Sandusky’s violence in his head. He had to. And we’d all like to think that if we saw such a thing in person, we’d have grabbed a blunt object, charged Sandusky and smashed him. Or at least called out. But the truth is, faced with that sort of shocking moment, it’s hard to say for sure how we would have acted. At the very least, though, decency and society demanded that he call 9-1-1, or the police, or something.
Instead, he neatly landed a fulltime coaching job eventually. And now, upset that he can’t land a job anywhere, McQueary is suing the school, saying he is being penalized for acting as a whistle-blower.
No. He is penalized for violating a contract of responsibility and society.
“They can take away my life,’’ Sandusky said in his statement Monday. “They can make me out as a monster. They can treat me as a monster. But they can’t take away my heart. In my heart, I know that I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.’’
He blamed the court for not giving him enough time to prepare a proper defense. And he blamed his accusers – his victims.
“A young man who was dramatic, a veteran accuser, and always sought attention, started everything,’’ Sandusky said. “He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won.’’
No, no. Everyone lost.
Does Sandusky even see that? That blank stare and those expressionless words never go away.
There is no bottoming out with this case. It just keeps falling deeper and deeper.
Meanwhile, Penn State is already nearly a feel-good story again, winning football games. I fear what the people of Happy Valley are seeing now, how far they are willing to take their joy over football again. They were blind before.
Sandusky is gone for life. Penn State officials have been forced out. That’s all that can be done now.
Meanwhile, though, victim No. 5 closes his eyes and sees horror.