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Sandusky can’t have the last word

Lessons of his case must be remembered

By The Mercury

Perhaps with Jerry Sandusky locked away where he belongs for the next 30 years, the rest of us won’t hear much from him anymore.

Mr. Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State University who was convicted earlier this year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, got what he deserved from the justice system.

He’s certain to be isolated from other inmates — and ought to be grateful for it. He wouldn’t live long in the general population, and he wouldn’t fare much better out on the street in America.

We don’t know whether he believes his pathetic denial of the unspeakable crimes he committed against young boys over a number of years, whether it was a cry for help or whether it constituted defiance of a judicial system that took far too long to deal with him.

From prison on Monday, he blamed his first victim, calling him “dramatic and a veteran accuser” whom Mr. Sandusky had only tried to help. For good measure, Mr. Sandusky proceeded to blame just about everyone else… except himself. Said Mr. Sandusky: “(The first accuser) was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, the investigators, the justice system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers.

“They’ve won,” he added, and went on to wonder about what “they” won.

For starters, they made society a little safer, having put away one sexual predator. That it took a decade stains the reputations of Penn State administrators and a beloved coach whose own priorities were skewed.

But there was another important victory — one that must be guarded and fostered lest it be lost. It is the renewed appreciation of the need to listen to children when they say they are being abused and to notice changes in their behavior that suggest that something awful might have happened to them. Children can lie, certainly, but when they say they’ve been touched in offensive ways or beaten, they need to be heard and their stories investigated.

Children need and deserve the protection of all of the decent people in their lives and of their society from the Jerry Sanduskys of the world. After all, they, too, are quite capable of lying — day in and day out for years — and have special motive to do so.

Childhood passes quickly enough. Predators must not be allowed to take it from the most innocent among us.

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