by Danny J. Bakewell Jr.
(NNPA)—The molestation of a child (any child) is a sick and heinous crime. The allegations against Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky—the long time coach at Penn State University and founder and primary fund raiser behind The Second Mile Foundation—has captured the attention of the worldwide media and has brought an end to the face of Penn State University (Joe Paterno) along with the school president, athletic director, many of its assistant coaches and for the most part, its entire football program. However, while the allegations of sexual abuse and child rape sicken almost everyone who is within an ears shot of this scandal. The resulting cover up or veil of secrecy which has been ongoing for the past 12 years may be more heinous then the alleged crimes themselves. While state and federal law prohibit the identity of a sexual crime victim from being released (no matter what age) it is interesting that no one is discussing the race of these young victims. Which also leads one to ask if these boys would have been young White males would the code of silence and veil of secrecy remained so strong and so quiet for so long?
The Second Mile Foundation was started as a Group Home in the State College Area (home of Penn State). According to both the grand jury report as well as the Second Mile website as “a program to work with troubled boys and grew into a charity dedicated to helping children with absent and dysfunctional families”. What has not been disclosed or a topic of conversation is that many of the alleged victims are African-American. According to Pennsylvania foster care records 48 percent of all children in out-of-home care are African-American and 53 percent of all children in foster care are males with an average age of 11 years old. Aubrey Manuel, President of the California State Care Providers Association stated that, “These percentages are very similar to California.” The likelihood that the majority of these children are African-American is overwhelming. “Particularly given that these kids were in a program, that the state foster care population is over 50 percent African-American Males and that the Second Chance Foundation client base is poor, underprivileged and foster children and that the coach (Sandusky) used sports as a major recruiting tool to get close to the victims it would not be a risk at all to believe that at least half of the Penn State victims were Black Boys. The victim population most likely reflected that of foster care population.”
Throughout the grand jury report are stories of young boys between the ages 9 and 12 years old. All recruited and involved with Sandusky through the Second Mile Program. Furthermore, in almost every account someone saw lewd and lascivious acts being conducted upon children ranging from oral sex, to actual anal intercourse between Sandusky and these children. Much has been discussed about the graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary actually witnessed the anal sex act and later reported it to then Head Coach Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno did report the allegations to athletic director who later interviewed McQueary and then reported back that “they had taken away Sandusky’s keys to the locker room.” McQueary was never questioned or interviewed by campus or city police.
But what about the report or failure to report the instance by then elementary school wrestling coach Joseph Miller who witnessed an incident one evening in 2006 or 2007 but failed to report it for almost five years. Or Steven Turchetta an assistant principal and head football coach at a local high school who testified that “Second Mile program is a very large charitable organization that helped children who are from economically underprivileged backgrounds and who may be living in single-parent households.” Turchetta testified that he witnessed on more than one occasion Sandusky removing the boy from class and ultimately heard of the sexual assault allegations by the boy’s mother, who called the school to report the sexual abuse.
Sandusky and Penn State are both considered culpable in these sickening crimes. Sandusky because he not only used his relationship with Second Mile to gain access to the boys and preyed on the very vulnerability that The Second Mile Foundation was supposed to be assisting these boys with overcoming and making them stronger men. As well as Sandusky used his relationship with Penn State to give these children access to a football program known worldwide and is an icon in Pennsylvania and in College Park in particular, which is where Sandusky lured these boys with gifts, trips and access that grown men would be overwhelmed with let alone 9- to13-year-old boys from impoverished homes and foster care facilities.
Penn State, because they knew about these allegations and improper events and actions almost 15 years ago, did nothing but turn a blind eye. It is outrageous and sickening that this 67-year-old man is alleged to have done to a few as nine and now allegedly up to 23 boys, all who came from broken homes in the poorest parts of the community who were only looking for guidance and someone to look up to.
No one is commenting on the fact that many of the alleged victims were Black youth while everyone involved in the cover up are White men.
(Danny J. Bakewell Jr. is Los Angeles Sentinel contributing editor.)