By Michael Collins
The current focus on Pennsylvania State University, its football program, and former coach Joe Paterno will be replaced by a more pervasive sexual assault scandal in the coming days and weeks. At-risk children and their often disadvantaged single parents were delivered up to a relentless sexual predator with exhibitionist tendencies as described in the findings of a special Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury. Link
The relentless deviate, former PSU defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, is accused of sexually assaulting children for years. According to the grand jury, he gained easy access to children and early adolescents through a foundation he founded in 1977, the Second Mile Foundation. He continued the assaults at his home and in the PSU showers on at least one occasion. The foundation serves over 100,000 at-risk youth. Sandusky started the foundation as a group home for “troubled boys” in 1977. Since hiring Jack Raykovitz, PhD, a licensed psychologist, as president, the foundation has grown into a multimillion enterprise serving over 100,000 children throughout the state.
A picture of alleged serial abuser Sandusky came into clear focus in the Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury release of findings about victims 1 through 8. Sandusky selected the eight boys from the population of those served by the Second Mile Foundation, it is alleged. He would start with mentoring, move onto hosting the boys for overnights in a bedroom at his home, and initiate oral copulation and anal sex, according to the grand jury report.
A critical fact listed in by the grand jury concerns the legal counsel for both the foundation and PSU. Wendell Courtney was the legal counsel for both PSU and the Second Mile Foundation during the period covering 1998 through the end of 2009. Courtney served as PSU’s primary legal counsel as a member of the law firm of McQuaide-Blasko. In January 2010, PSU hired a full time, in house counsel. During Courtney’s service to the organizations, Second Mile founder, PSU coach (in 1998), and PSU coach emeritus (in 2002) Sandusky was twice investigated on charges of sexual assault. Neither investigation resulted in either organization terminating Sandusky’s employment or access to facilities.
Where is the Sexual Assault Scandal Headed?
Penn State Scandal: Jerry Sandusky Rumored To Have ‘Pimped’ Boys To Donors: REPORT Huffington Post headline, November 10
This is a remarkable headline since it features rumors of incomplete investigations by unidentified reporters. The story that HuffPost says should break soon concerns Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation and its donors. There were other reports concerning this new direction of the story.
The foundation raises millions of dollars a year from corporate and individual donors in Pennsylvania for the most part. Funds support educational and “leadership” programs and retreats for at-risk youth throughout the state. (Image: from video)
The 2010 foundation annual report features a county map of Pennsylvania with total individuals serviced by county. For some reason, the totals are about even for individuals served in Allegheny County, population 1.2 million, and Centre County, population, 153,000 (and home of PSU).
Was Jerry Sandusky procuring at-risk youth for foundation donors as suggested in the headline? If so which donors? Where and when did this happen?
PSU summarily fired the university president, senior executives, and Joe Paterno this week. As of today, long time Second Mile president, Jack Raykovitz, PhD, retains his position as foundation president. The members of the Honorary Board of Trustees, a list of Pennsylvania notables, are in the uncomfortable position of endorsing a tarnished foundation. Major donors listed in the annual report are seen as offering public financial support for a foundation that remains passive despite the clear need for organizational change.
What about Victims 1 through 8 (and more)?
We have no way of knowing the level of help received by the reported Sandusky victims reviewed by the statewide grand jury. Any delay to much needed evaluation and treatment is a true shame.
There is a wealth of data concerning the mid and long term impact of adult sexual assaults on children. In summary, victims of childhood sexual abuse have a much higher incidence of depression (major depression, dysthymia), anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance related disorders. Bipolar youth are more likely to have their first mood episode earlier as a result of sexual assault as are youth with schizophrenia.
Long term problems trusting any authority (Judith Herman, MD) are common if the assailant is a trusted individual, as Sandusky was at the start of his alleged abusive relationships.
Sexual assaults victims are also more likely to be victimized again (revictimization) than are those without this history.
The full impact of adult sexual assault of children is inherently limited by the reluctance of victims to report the crimes.
At the very least, the reported Sandusky victims deserve immediate assistance with medical and psychotherapeutic care, without any strings attached by the organizations that so thoroughly neglected to identify, report, and stop the abuse. Victims should not be asked to wave future compensation to receive this care.
Any victims associated with programs of Second Mile Foundation, Sandusky, or PSU should have free court guardians appointed to assure that they’re not victimized again by the wealthy and powerful through coercive legal tactics. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should establish a fund immediately and a master of the fund who from out of state. Trials and settlements must be handled by competent courts outside of Pennsylvania.
The focus needs to shift to immediate identification and help for all victims and prompt investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.
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