On Monday morning in the Dauphin County Courthouse three Penn State top ranking officials will be in court for their preliminary hearing on charges of failure to report child abuse and perjury. As of now, Jerry Sandusky has been convicted on 45 of the original 48 charges of sexual assault because the victims in this case took the stand to testify about what Sandusky did to them. By revealing acts of child molestation and sexual assault, they showed courage in the face of national attention and public record. In the end, the jury said it was their words that helped them convict Sandusky for the crimes he committed over the course of several years.
Now, we are entering into another phase of justice for the victims. Many might wonder why Monday is important to the victims. After all, they won’t be testifying and I know from firsthand knowledge many will not be present during the hearing.
Yet, it does matter.
It matters to them and to every other victim of child abuse and sexual assault.
Here is why:
When adults allow abuse to happen to children they are just as bad as the perpetrator of the violent acts. Those who sit by knowingly and do nothing are remembered just as vividly by the young eyes of those being abused, and for some, are looked upon with just as much–if not more– hatred. This is due to a very simple reason: because the adult could have stopped the abuse, but they (for whatever reason) chose not to. Furthermore, anyone who knows or witnesses an act of violence against another person has a responsibility to report that act regardless of the age of the victim and the status of the perpetrator.
So yes, Monday matters.
Accountability for these three men who knew enough and did nothing to protect these children matters.
For every victim out there, I hope Monday illustrates that it is unacceptable to sit by and do nothing when you witness or know of abuse. I hope it rings loud and clear in the halls of every university in this country that if you fail to protect your students and young people on your campus you will go to jail. I pray it encourages more people to come forward and speak up and out about abuse they may have endured regardless of the “status” or “perceived status” of the offender. I hope this case illustrates to everyone that child sexual abuse will not be tolerated at any level and those who cover it up, look the other way or attempt to silence a victim will not escape the due course of justice.
In case you need a refresher on the case, here is a link to the presentment from the Attorney General’s office. http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/uploadedFiles/Press/spanier-schultz-curley_presentment-11-1-12.pdf
To read more about my take on this case download my ebook Echoes of Penn State: Facing Sexual Trauma which offers assistance for victims, their loved ones and anyone seeking to understand the healing needed for crime victims of sexual violence. All proceeds from ebook sales go to Victim/Witness Assistance Program: