But there is another lesson to be learned from this horrible story, and it's time we acknowledged it. Penn State's administrators might have buried the charges against Sandusky partly because our national anxiety about sexual abuse has resulted in a lattice of laws so toxic that people are afraid to report it. Although Penn State officials may have wanted Sandusky to stop, they also may have feared the overwhelming consequences of reporting the crime.Oh, wah, wah, wah! Mike McQueary saw Sandusky raping a boy in the shower, and his bosses "feared the consequences"?
There's no doubt that Penn State administrators were trying to protect the university and its football program. But they were also trying to protect Sandusky and themselves from the tsunami that would follow. I take Spanier at his alleged word that he feared an inhumane result. He isn't alone: Some recent research suggests that some prosecutors shape their charging and plea-bargaining decisions to moderate the effects of current laws.Here's where, if I were worse at my rhetoric, I'd say that I wish prosecutors seeking to moderate the effects of current laws would get child-raped themselves. But I don't wish that, really I don't. I don't even wish child rape on law school professors. What I'll do instead is point out that a law school professor would have ridiculed me for not distinguishing between a case where the result is "inhumane" and child rapist Jerry Sandusky's case.
An "inhumane result," as even the Georgia Supreme Court figured out, was Marcus Dixon's, where prosecutors won a conviction and a 10-year sentence on an 18-year-old charged with felony aggravated child molestation, rather than misdemeanor statutory rape, for having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, and guess which one of the couple was white and which was African-American. Here, McQueary witnessed Sandusky raping a child in the shower in 2002, when Sandusky was 57 and his victim about 10. Sandusky remained unindicted for another 9 years and unconvicted until a year after that. Which is the "inhumane result" now?
Former president of Pennsylvania State University Graham "don't want to be inhumane, you understand" Spanier in 2003, 2 years after he learned that Jerry Sandusky was a child rapist but did not report the rape to police.
I've got a lot of friends and colleagues, and, you know, I'm not the president of a university with a very important football team, but I have to think that if I learned that a friend or colleague of mine were raping children, I'd report their ass to the police. But, hey, maybe that's a particular character trait of mine that explains why I've never been able to claw my way to the top of a Big 10 school with an endowment of over $1.5 billion (PDF). I've never been a law school professor, either.