Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Mike James: NCAA fails PSU sex abuse victims

Throughout the past week I have read numerous columns, watched countless interviews and listened to many radio hosts speak about the child rape scandal that has engulfed Penn State.

There has been talk of statues, legacies, sanctions, athletics, records, academics and hero-worship among other topics. One thing was consistently omitted: the innocent victims.

No, not the college football players who won't get to play for a championship or the fans who won't get to witness their team win ultimately meaningless games because of the sins of others. The real victims. The children, now men, who were molested, raped and sexually assaulted by a pedophile over the course of decades.

Lost in the discussions of the NCAA's punishments for Penn State was the rampant disregard for these victims, not only by the high-ranking members of an educational institution, but also by those in charge of the NCAA.

By accepting the report of former FBI Director Louis Freeh that was commissioned by the Penn State board of trustees and by electing not to do its own investigation, the NCAA denied the victims of this tragedy a chance to know the truth.

The Freeh Report, although an exhaustive effort, did not include interviews with key Penn State officials in the case, including former Vice President of Business and Finance Gary Schultz, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former football assistant coach Mike McQueary, who was the one who claimed he witnessed a child being raped by former Penn State coach and now convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

The report has its flaws and leaves questions as to what was actually said within the Penn State administration in the past decade.

We know about emails that allude to conversations, but we don't know what was actually said during those conversations.

Faced with a choice of accepting the Freeh Report or using it as a guide for its own investigation to provide the victims with answers to these questions, the NCAA chose the easy way out.

NCAA President Mark Emmert decided, contrary to every other case brought before the organization, that these victims didn't deserve a thorough investigation into all the details of what happened; that the children who were raped didn't have the right to know why some of them have to live the rest of their lives knowing that grown men could have prevented the horrific abuse they suffered.

Instead, Emmert got on stage to orchestrate his moment in the spotlight and spoke of punishment and athletics and academics and hero-worshipping and the problems within the athletic culture, all while turning a blind eye to the silent culture of sexual abuse, as too many in today's society do.

Sexual abuse is a hard topic to discuss.

It is sick. It is disgusting. It is reality.

There are sick people in our society. They may be in our churches, our schools, our workplaces or our families. They hold power over helpless victims, knowing that when these victims come forward they will likely be ignored or teased and bullied as some in the Penn State scandal eventually were.

Until we take that power away and give it to the victims by encouraging them to speak up while listening to them and remembering them and investigating abuse on their behalf, we might as well waste our time discussing meaningless statues, sanctions and records, because nothing in our society is ever going to change.