Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Too Big to Fail

“If you’re too big to fail, you’re too big.”-Richard Fisher, President, Dallas Federal Reserve

When Richard Fisher spoke those words, he was talking about the nation’s bailout of Wall Street and the nation’s largest banks following the crash of 2008. Those words, however, came to me when reading about two child abuse scandals that were in the news this summer: the Sandusky trial and the Philadelphia trial of a Catholic Priest who was convicted of child endangerment. Monsignor William Lynn was not charged with child abuse. Rather, he was convicted of reassigning pedophile priests while saying they were excused for health reasons. Lynn kept a list of 35 suspected pedophile priests that was testimony in the case. He said he kept the list in hopes that the burgeoning problem would be addressed by his superiors. He also admits under testimony that at no time did he go to the authorities with his information. Part of the trial focused on Father Edward Avery, who was accused of molesting a boy in the 1970’s and sent to an archdiocese hospital for priests with sexual and substance abuse problems. When he came off his disability leave, he was placed into a community parish, despite recommendations that he not be around children. Avery later pled guilty to sodomizing a 10 year old boy there.

The Jerry Sandusky trial, for those who spent the summer in Antarctica, reads like a primer on how to molest kids. Sandusky, assistant coach for Penn State, an NCAA football powerhouse, used his position as the founder of non-profit charity to sexually abuse young, at-risk, disadvantaged boys over a 15 year period. Sandusky was convicted on the testimony of 8 brave men who said that Sandusky forced them to have sex in exchange for money and favors. To me, the most alarming testimony of the entire case was when Mike McQuery, then a Penn State graduate assistant, found Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy in the shower. He said at trial that he couldn’t be sure of what he was seeing. Instead of going to the police, he informed his supervisor. An FBI report released this month came to the conclusion that Penn State knowingly allowed this behavior to continue unabated for at least 10 years. The Penn State Administrative Director and its Senior Financial Officer were subsequently charged with failure to report child abuse. Experts say that if Joe Paterno had not died this past winter, he too would be facing charges.

Amazingly to me, now that Penn State’s football program is in danger, people are complaining that it’s unfair that the program is in jeopardy. Let’s be clear folks: if the football program receives a penalty, the fault lies with Sandusky and those who protected him. I love Rutgers football, but I would rather see the stadium razed to the ground then have one 10 year old raped in its showers.

Take away this one thing: in the Catholic sex abuse scandal, in the Sandusky case, NOT ONE PERSON CALLED THE COPS. In large part because the institutions ‘reputations were seen as more important than the need to protect children. They didn’t want a scandal to dirty the name of their religious institution or their favorite sports team. And this is dangerous.   When one person rapes a child, they have damaged a vital portion of that child forever and it is a tragedy. When an institution is complicit in the cover-up and continuation of child abuse, it is a horror beyond imagining. If an institution, a religion, a university, whatever, is too big to abide by the laws of our country, not to mention common decency, then it is too big to exist here. 

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