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Liguori: Lessons To Learn From Penn State Debacle

By Ann Liguori
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As the Penn State University child abuse scandal continues to shock our nation, it is quite clear that institutions across the country must re-examine and implement their own Code of Ethical Conduct and make sure that everyone on campus, from the student body and faculty to the administrators and all who work on campus, have access to a Code of Ethics, understand it and comply with it.

These Codes of Ethics must clearly state that if you believe a crime has been committed on campus,  here's exactly what you should do. Pennsylvania State Law, similar to New York State law, requires that the person in charge of the school or institution has the responsibility and legal obligation to report to the Department of Public Welfare within 48 hours. Detailed procedures on who to report to and how soon one should report, need to be stressed. Most importantly, witnesses need to know that they can't lose their jobs if they report what they have seen or heard. No one should be afraid to do the right thing!

The more the investigation goes on, the more there seem to be unanswered questions. It seems as if there are layers of people who allegedly did not do the right thing because of their association with the 'powers' to be. Every day, the plot thickens:

  • How much did Coach Paterno really know? How accurately did he communicate?
  • How many people were involved in the cover-up?
  • The grand jury report detailed a 1998 investigation by Penn State police which began after an 11-year-old boy's mother complained that Jerry Sandusky had showered with her son in the football facilities. Then-District Attorney Ray Gricar declined to file charges. Gricar disappeared in April 2005 and was declared legally dead earlier this year. Was Gricar's disappearance connected to this scandal? Investigators have said they don't believe there's a connection between his disappearance and the decision to not charge Sandusky BUT it all sounds too fishy for my taste…
  • Why did Penn State lobby back in 2007 to exempt the University from the Open Records of Law?
  • District Judge Leslie Dutchcot, who let Jerry Sandusky return home without paying any bail and without an ankle monitor after being arrested on 40 counts of child sexual assault charges, was a volunteer and contributor to Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile. Talk about a conflict of interest!?!
  • A Penn State attorney, Wendell Courtney, who reviewed the 1998 police report against Jerry Sandusky, also represented the Second Mile.
  • Did Mike McQueary report what he saw to the authorities? He said he did but the police have denied this.

What we do know is that the process failed. And there are lessons to be learned. Nobody is above the law. And nobody should fear losing his/her job for telling the truth.  And it's time for Universities to take a closer look at what's going on inside their own walls, where 'cash cow athletic programs' and 'maintaining the image and brand,' dictates all. It's time for America to wake up and protect our children!


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