Before I state some mixed feelings about the tragic fate of Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, let me make something very, very clear. His firing in the child abuse sex scandal is deserved. So is that of the university’s president. And there probably should be more. Quickly.

Athletic Director Tim Curley – currently on paid administrative leave – should get the immediate axe for perjuring himself before a grand jury when he said repeatedly he knew nothing. The Pennsylvania Attorney General already has published proof he lied.

Senior Vice President Gary Shultz – also charged with perjury with proof also publically offered by the A.G. – should be yanked from retirement and that retirement should be suspenbded until all the legal details shake out. Then, maybe revoked.

Grad Assistant Coach Mike McQueary has not been touched – yet – but he needs to be canned quickly. And prosecuted. It was McQueary who walked in on a rape of a youngster in the shower area of the football facility in 2002, did not intervene, turned around and walked away. He turned tail and walked, then kept his mouth shut. For nine years!

And let’s not forget Jerry Sandusky, the defensive coach against whom the evidence of a 15 year pattern of violating young boys is mountainous. He should never see the sun without bars between him and Old Sol. Never!

Before this scandalous tragedy is over, there will probably be more employees of Penn State rooted out and targeted for a portion of the total blame. If so, and it’s proven, put them outside with the rest of the trash.

With that said, the one tragic figure here being pilloried is Paterno. He is guilty. Yes. U.S. Code Title 42, Chapter 132, Subchapter IV, 13031 is the pertinent law. It applies to all medical professionals, social workers, teachers (including football coaches) and others having contact with children. Unlike some sweeping laws federal , it’s very, very clear.

“A person who, while engaged in a professional capacity or activity … learns of facts that give reason to suspect that a child has suffered an incident of child abuse, shall as soon as possible make a report of the suspected abuse to the agency designated under subsection (d)…..”

One such designated agency is local law enforcement. Paterno did not go there. On that point rests his guilt. By his own admission. No question. BUT – what Paterno failed to do should not make him the poster child for the whole Penn State mess. Still, that’s just what’s happening.

It’s happening because of a lazy, sensation-seeking and – in some cases – incompetent national media. When the Penn State story is reported, the first picture you see – and sometimes the only picture you see – is Paterno. His image is becoming the logo for the whole tawdry mess. And that’s wrong!

Line up all of the bad guys according to their participation. The baddest of the bad is Sandusky, the sick bastard who preyed on the kids. For 15 years. If there is a poster child for this scandal, it is Sandusky. Put his picture on every mention of what is being reported, every time it’s reported. Give him no place to hide. Put his picture on milk cartons.

Curley and Schultz stand interchangeably second and third. Already charged, they’re walking around free and – to most of us – unrecognized. Their likenesses, too, should top every story dealing with this.

Fourth – only temporarily because he hasn’t yet been charged – is McQueary who witnessed Sandusky in action in the shower and did nothing. Nothing at the moment to stop it and nothing since 2002 though he could have offered eyewitness testimony to law enforcement. In my mind, being there and doing nothing makes him awfully close to being a co-conspirator. Nine years he’s kept the secret.

Then, in the lineup of only those identified so far, should be Paterno. Was he wrong? Yes. Did he do what was required? No. Should he share in the punishment? Yes. Some of it.

But the media is making him out to be “the story.” That is flat out wrong! His failure was what he didn’t do but should have. Not what he did do but shouldn’t have.

Over the years, JoePa has made Penn State rich. The football program brought in $72.7 million last season alone. He’s been used by the University and boosters for years to raise hundreds of millions – if not a billion or two – for a football program that otherwise might have been forgettable. His entire adult life has been tied to a school that used him for all he was worth – all they could market him for – before putting him out with the trash. He deserves better.

Paterno’s legacy will never be the same. From now on, every time his name is mentioned in the media, including his obituary, the first sentence – no matter the story – will include a reference to the “Penn State sex scandal.”

You can bet on it. And that, too is wrong.

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