Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story

No, that title is not a sick joke.

It is the title of a 2001 autobiography by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, now accused of multiple counts of child sexual abuse. Apparently out of print, you can still search inside the book on the Amazon site. I did not read it all, but the picture painted is an All-American success story. Sandusky worshiped his parents, especially his father. The elder Sandusky was heavily involved in charity work in Washington, PA, also donating time to needy children.

If any of the allegations against Sandusky are true, then the disconnect between his public and private lives is massive. Here is what the Amazon site says about Sandusky:

Jerry Sandusky retired as defensive coordinator of the Penn State University football team following the 1999 season. He spent 32 years at Penn State, all as an assistant to legendary head coach Joe Paterno, including the last 23 as defensive coordinator. Sandusky is the founder of The Second Mile, a charitable foundations that has touched the lives of more than 100,000 children. He is the author of a previous book, Developing Linebackers the Penn State Way. He and his wife Dottie are the parents of six children.

In the book, Sandusky describes his involvement in church work, volunteering time for a church in his neighborhood and as a long time member of St. Paul’s Methodist Church in State College.

Predictably, some far right pundits want to make this about homosexual predation. To my knowledge, no adult male has come forward with stories of gay relationships with Sandusky. If anything, Sandusky was living the straight lifestyle. Haters gonna hate and so culture warriors will use whatever they can get to make points. These armchair advocates are not worth the effort.

The fuller picture defies those efforts and displays a maddeningly complicated situation. Sandusky was not just married, he was a pillar in the community and church who described wonderful parents and had great success in an iconic American sport. Prior to the allegations, anyone would have wanted this guy in their church, social club or charity. How can you protect children from people like that? Complaining about gays won’t protect anyone from someone like Jerry Sandusky.

We do need to know what happened; why the signs were missed, if indeed they turn out to be as indicated in media reports. Practically, the legal process will play out and bits and pieces of the truth will get out. Ultimately, in order to prevent further tragedies, we need to know the whole truth, whatever it is.