Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Perhaps one of the ugliest stories in the history of higher education is unfolding in an unlikely setting--State College, Pennsylvania, long known as "Happy Valley" and the idyllic home to Penn State University.
Happy Valley, and all of college athletics, has been rocked by reports that a former assistant coach for the Nittany Lions football team sexually abused at least eight boys, from 1994 to 2009. Jerry Sandusky was the defensive coordinator at Penn State until his retirement in 1999, and he long was seen as a likely successor to iconic head coach Joe Paterno.
Sandusky turned out dozens of defensive stars, helping Penn State become known as "Linebacker U." Allegations that he molested boys, both while working as a coach and as head of a youth charity called The Second Mile, have shocked the college-football world.
No one, however should be surprised at one aspect of the Penn State story--allegations that two high-ranking university officials lied under oath in an effort to cover up the scandal.
Tim Curley, Penn State's athletics director, and Gary Schultz, the school's senior vice president for business and finance, stepped down in the face of charges that they committed perjury and failed to notify state officials about allegations of sexual abuse.
Having worked in higher education for 19 years, I am not at all surprised by charges that university administrators lied under oath. In fact, I've seen similar behavior in an up-close-and-personal way since I was unlawfully terminated from my job as an editor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Indisputable evidence shows that I was targeted and fired because I write a progressive blog, on my own time, that apparently upset conservative forces in our state's political environment.
The public perhaps views college campuses as "citadels of higher learning," where students, faculty, and staff are called to seek truth and insight. Many colleges offer required courses on ethics, and UAB even has an Ethics Bowl team. But when placed in a high-stakes, real-world situation, UAB administrators have shown that their ethics can quickly exit, stage left. In fact, I have evidence that they lied under oath in an ongoing federal lawsuit over my termination.
Higher ups at Penn State apparently have similar problems with "situational ethics."
How ugly is the Sandusky scandal? Consider this report from Huffington Post:
The allegations against Sandusky, who started The Second Mile in 1977, range from sexual advances to touching to oral and anal sex. The young men testified before a state grand jury that they were in their early teens when some of the abuse occurred; there is evidence even younger children may have been victimized. . . .
Sandusky is charged with multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor, as well as single counts of aggravated indecent assault and attempted indecent assault.
One accuser, now 27, testified that Sandusky initiated contact with a "soap battle" in the shower that led to multiple instances of involuntary sexual intercourse and indecent assault at Sandusky's hands, the grand jury report said.
What about charges against the Penn State administrators? Those aren't pretty either: