Rape, Reporting, And Reputation (The School’s, That Is)
Samhita covers the shocking tale of Jerry Sandusky, the longtime defensive coordinator of Penn State’s storied football program. If you’re not willfully tuning out college football news, you are probably aware that Joe Paterno, PSU’s head coach since nobody knew who Joe Namath was, is on his way out because of the scandal.
[Trigger Warning for Graphic Description of Child Rape]
So what do you do, if you happen to walk into a locker room and find a grown man with his penis in the anus of a prepubescent boy? The correct answer is “immediately contact the police.” Under these circumstances and given the actual harm being done, “terminate with extreme prejudice” is also an understandable response.
They covered it up. The guy who walked in on the rape told no police, no parent, nobody outside the athletic department. The sole sanction was that the molester wasn’t allowed to bring victims into the locker rooms anymore; he kept all his campus access and he ran his victim-grooming football camps on campus for years after the athletic department, (and the head coach, who is playing games now with what he knew when) knew that Sandusky had been caught raping a prepubescent boy.
It’s not surprising; it’s shocking but not surprising. Nobody should be surprised by this. This is not about the athletic department or college sports of Joe Paterno. This is about how colleges deal with rape on campus. If you read this blog you already know how colleges deal with rape on campus.
Why should we expect their reaction to be different when the victims are children? These issues are not separable. The research shows that many rapists are not specialist offenders, that the people who rape adults abuse children and beat intimate partners as well. Maybe we’re expecting people who will wave off and disbelieve and refuse to act against the rape of adults will suddenly care when confronted with the same harm to children, but as we see with Roman Polanski, a rape apologist for one purpose seems to be a rape apologist for all purposes.
This is not a story about college football. This is a story about taking rape seriously. A person caught red-handed committing a rape in 2002 should not have been permitted to continue raping for almost ten years, and he was because our culture continues to refuse to take it seriously — not in theory, but in fact, when and where it happens.