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October 10, 2012

Our Opinion: Sandusky jail term protects children and sends a message

NEW CASTLE — There probably isn’t much new to say about the Jerry Sandusky saga at this point.

However, yesterday’s sentencing of Sandusky to 30 to 60 years in prison — essentially a life term — for his conviction on child sex abuse charges, warrants additional comment.

Although Sandusky’s case has attracted massive public attention, it remains difficult to fathom that an institution such as Penn State University could allow itself to be placed in its current predicament.

Several members of the school’s leadership, including former president Graham Spanier and the late, legendary football coach Joe Paterno, have been widely discredited for failure to deal more effectively with reports of Sandusky’s horrific crimes.

Plus some officials are awaiting trial, and ongoing investigations could lead to new charges. On top of that, civil suits are pending and the university will continue to deal with the consequences of the Sandusky saga for years to come.

We understand that sexual predators are often repeat offenders, seemingly incapable of controlling their actions. And in the case of Sandusky, part of that appears to include utter denial of what has happened.

Despite the overwhelming evidence and testimony against him, despite revelations that concerns about his conduct have existed for years, he continued to plead his innocence at his sentencing. There is no remorse here, and if putting Sandusky away for the rest of his life is what it takes to protect more children, so be it.

We continue to hold out the hope that the scrutiny surrounding the case of Sandusky and Penn State will lead to a few positives. In particular, we would like to think that the results of the case — delayed as they might have been — will encourage other victims of sexual abuse to come forward and fight back.

It’s important to remember that these predators don’t quit; they merely move on. So they must be stopped.

But we also have stressed the need for institutions and the people who lead them to learn from what happened to Penn State. While this may be an extreme case, there is a human tendency to look the other way when something wrong occurs. Ignore it and it will go away, so to speak.

Maybe that happens at times, but not always — as Sandusky’s case amply demonstrates. And the more serious the problem that’s downplayed, the greater the consequences will be when it’s exposed.

What’s the old saying? Honesty is the best policy. We imagine plenty of people at Penn State these days wish it had been followed with Sandusky.

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