Former university president Graham Spanier, not Joe Paterno, deserves the majority of the blame for covering up the child-molestation allegations
The issues that are tearing Penn State apart stem from a fundamental, recurring issue in institutional scandals: a culture of silence that puts protection of the university (or the corporation or the church or the governmental department) ahead of doing justice in individual cases and preventing injury in future ones.
The ultimate symbol of that dangerous culture of silence is not Joe Paterno, but the president of Penn State for 16 years, Graham Spanier. Both were fired by the Penn State trustees Wednesday evening for failing to ensure the police were informed of, among other things, a 2002 apparent rape of a young boy in a Penn State locker room by Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator of the football team.
Paterno's firing will receive the greatest attention--and commentary. But the ultimate responsibility for the failure to act lies with the university president.
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According to the grand jury report, Spanier, like Paterno, knew of the 2002 incident but failed to go beyond the actions of the athletic department prohibiting Sandusky from bringing young boys onto the Penn State campus: this was nine years ago.