A Revealing Excerpt From the Freeh Report

Jeremy Schaap, responding to the report, referenced the following section. It involves a graphic act of rape which will not leave your head. Please know that before you read:

According to the testimony of witnesses in Gerald A. Sandusky's ("Sandusky") trial in Centre County in June 2012,237 in the Fall of 2000, a temporary University janitor ("Janitor A") observed a man, later identified to him as Sandusky, in the Assistant Coaches' locker room showers of the Lasch Building with a young boy in the Fall of 2000. 

Sandusky had the boy pinned against the wall and was performing oral sex on him. The janitor immediately told one of his fellow janitors ("Janitor B") what he had witnessed, stating that he had "fought in the [Korean] War...seen people with their guts blowed out, arms dismembered... . I just witnessed something in there I'll never forget." 

On that same night, Janitor B observed two pairs of feet in this same shower at the Lasch Building but could not see the upper bodies of the two persons. He waited for the two to finish their shower, and later saw Jerry Sandusky and a young boy, around the age of 12, exit the locker room holding hands. Janitor B frequently saw Sandusky in the Lasch Building after hours, usually accompanied by one or more young boys.

Janitor B closely followed Penn State football, and knew Sandusky from watching football games. A senior janitorial employee ("Janitor C") on duty that night spoke with the staff, who had gathered with Janitor A to calm him down. Janitor C advised Janitor A how he could report what he saw, if he wanted to do so. Janitor B said he would stand by Janitor A if he reported the incident to the police, but Janitor A said, "no, they'll get rid of all of us." 

Janitor B explained to the Special Investigative Counsel that reporting the incident "would have been like going against the President of the United States in my eyes...I know Paterno has so much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone." He explained "football runs this University," and said the University would have closed ranks to protect the football program at all costs.

The response here, concerning Paterno's power, is worth considering. This morning Jay Paterno responded to questions about his father's integrity by citing graduation rates, and his father's willingness to bench player's outside of the football game. I just watched Matt Millen, a man at war with himself, struggling with the truth of the man who coached him. He did not deny it, but it was extremely hard for him to say, "He did this." 

It is indeed hard for us to reconcile the commission of evil with the commission of good. We like to think that evil is only perpetuated by those who are obvious, the better to relieve ourselves of the burdens of constant evaluation and reflection. It's similar to our conversation around race here. How does one accept that American democracy depended on American slavery? How do you accept that your brilliant spiritual father, Thomas Jefferson, committed the sin of slavery, knew it, and continued nonetheless? 

Those who bear witness to that evil know well the price of waking us to the awful real, for forcing us to think. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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