It’s Called Justice!

Penn State College of Engineering
Penn State College of Engineering (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s Called Justice!


This is what happens when a university covers up crime. It’s what’s supposed to happen. It’s not an anomaly except in the sense that so often it does not.


Should they have had to pay this money and fire those people?




How do you get justice without penalty? How do you get people to not aid and abet in the crimes of others if there are not penalties? How do you get people from sweeping criminal conduct under the rug if it threatens the institutions reputation if the penalties for not sweeping don’t do as much damage?


What’s scary is how seldom justice happens. This time, people got fired. This time, there were criminal prosecutions and  monetary penalties.


Compare this to our standard international or investment bank narrative. 1. Bank does something terrible and utterly illegal. 2. Against all odds bank gets caught. 3. Bank says, “What wrongdoing?” against a background of overwhelming evidence. 4. Bank pleads guilty only after prosecution has been taken off the table. 5. Bank pays roughly 10%  of what it made by outright criminality. 6. Roughly two years pass, and the bank once again gets caught doing the same old thing or something brand new. 7. The cycle goes on.


It’s a pity that child abuse brings out societal anger but not house stealing or international money laundering.


We can bet Penn State will be keeping a careful eye on its policies in the future.


Can we say the same for our investment banks?


James Pilant


Sandusky fallout costs Penn State more than $50 million | News |


The money Penn State has spent in legal and consulting fees for the Jerry Sandusky scandal has topped $50 million. Penn State’s latest update shows the university has spent $50,459,828 through July 31 for work done by more than three-dozen firms. That’s up $1,025,962 from what the university spent through June 30, according to monthly updates provided by Penn State. The potential total cost of the scandal skyrockets to more than $158 million when factoring in the dollar value of the total settlement offers with Sandusky claimants and the full NCAA fine, which the university is paying in yearly installments.


via Sandusky fallout costs Penn State more than $50 million | News |


From around the web.


From the web site, BHA Journalism – (Their new web site).


Arguably the single greatest controversy ever to mar the reputation
of a nationally recognized university, and certainly the incidence of
greatest infamy ever to involve a university’s athletic
department, the Pennsylvania State sex scandal was one which, at its
height, captivated the nation, prompting a variety of emotional
responses amongst members of the general public, the most profound of
which occurred amongst those with personal connections to the Penn State
football program. While the event is one which may have faded from the
forefront of public attention, the emotional trauma inflicted by the
scandal upon those personally involved is likely to be of a far more
enduring nature.


At the onset of the scandal, allegations of sexual
misconduct against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky prompted widespread
outrage, which became exponentially more vitriolic when it was
discovered that many of Sandusky’s alleged misdeeds were said to
have involved minors. The subsequent controversy which developed in the
wake of these allegations would be of a severity so great as to nearly
completely divert public attention from other major events affecting the
campus in subsequent months, most notably the removal of longtime head
coach Joe Paterno from his position within the program, just months
before his death due to a long-gestating lung cancer. Even in light of
these developments, those convinced of Sandusky’s guilt would continue
to demand that justice be served, and would see their desires
fulfilled on Tuesday, October 9, when Sandusky would plead guilty to ten
separate instances of sexual abuse involving minors, which were
conducted over a fifteen-year period.


Ethics Bob Comments on the Penn State Sanctions and College Football

I really enjoyed Ethics Bob’s concluding paragraph which I include below. Of course, for the real flavor of the article, you need to read it all and the link is just below the quoted section.

James Pilant

Penn State: do the sanctions punish the innocent? « Ethics Bob

What’s being taken away from the Penn State students is an illusion—the illusion that the quality of their college years depends on football championships. College years are a time for shedding childish illusions. Perhaps the innocent students aren’t being punished at all: they’re learning what’s important in the world. That’s a big part of what they are going to college for.

Penn State: do the sanctions punish the innocent? « Ethics Bob

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Ethics Roundup, 11-14-2011

Ethics Roundup for 11/14/2011.

1. Ethics Bob has a post called – Are the media out to wreck Herman Cain’s candidacy? No, he’s doing it to himself, quite effectively

Here’s a paragraph from the essay:

Ethics Bob

Cain has only himself to blame for the vultures circling overhead. His story has changed—materially—every day, and more than once most days. First he denied ever being accused of sexual harassment. Then he acknowledged that there had been a complaint but he turned it over to the association that he headed and he didn’t think anything had come of it. Then he said there had been no settlement paid to his accuser(s). Then he said, wait a minute I thought there had been an agreement, not a settlement.


2. Gail O’Brien writing in The Week in Ethics has an interesting article –

How PSU’s President and Coach Paterno Lost the Game.

Here’s a selection from the article:

Spanier called the allegations about Sandusky “troubling. He said, “It is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance.”

Protecting children does require utmost vigilance; a vigilance neither his actions or those of his team appear to have demonstrated to PSU’s stakeholders.

3. The Ethics Sage has another article on the Penn State Scandal –

Paterno and Penn State: A Matter of Integrity

This is good, very good –

As for the Paterno matter, the decision of the Penn State Board of Trustees to fire legendary and much loved iconic football coach Joe Paterno was painful for some to accept. After all, Paterno had just announced his retirement at the end of the year, after his 46th season as head coach. He had just become the winningest coach in college football history – 409 victories. He is loved by all at Penn State – by the university community, and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. But, is that a good reason not to fire a coach who was told of the sexual abuse of a 10-year old boy in 2002 and did not take any action that might have prevented such a tragedy in the future? Paterno knew nothing was being done by University higher-ups and didn’t take any action other than to make the initial report. This is not how a person of integrity should act.


Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Patern...
Image via Wikipedia
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Penn State Students Riot on Behalf of Morally Disgraced Coach

A number of students at Penn State have rioted over the firing of legendary football coach, Joe Paterno. I am very disappointed in their behavior. From the grand jury report alone without any other media report, it is obvious that Paterno breached his moral duty by not reporting a cruel act of pedophilia and allowing the culprit to go free and possibly continue his criminal career for nine more years. Apparently some are arguing that since Paterno told his superiors, he had fulfilled his duty!

There was never any doubt in my mind that he and the college president had to be removed. The issues here are not grey, they are not indistinct; we are looking at a clear issue of right and wrong. These rioting Penn State students are making a statement here, that they do not understand the basic responsibilities of a citizen in our society.

From the New York Times

After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.

Now, let’s hear at least one person’s argument on behalf of the fired coach –

Again, from the New York Times story

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.

Run this phrase from the paragraph above across your mind – “met his legal and moral responsibilities” Say it out loud and see if there is any way you can mean it.

There are those who believe when they have met the very least of their legal responsibilities, their moral duties are also fulfilled. I do not hold to that. My perception is that our moral responsibilities only begin there at the moral minimum of obedience to the law. We have duties to our fellow citizens and our nation. You could add duties to religion and civilization with no argument on my part.

I teach law enforcement courses. One of the principles of American law enforcement is public support. With the public’s active participation, law enforcement is not possible. The police do not cover enough ground that they can know about any worthwhile percentage of crime. So, the bedrock of American law enforcement is the willingness of citizens to provide information and sometime testify in criminal matters. Without that cooperation, we descend into chaos.

Did Joe Paterno violate the law? Here is the relevant portion of Pennsylvania statute in question –

§ 42.42. Suspected child abuse—mandated reporting requirements.

 (a)  General rule. Under 23 Pa.C.S. §  6311 (relating to persons required to report suspected child abuse), licensees who, in the course of the employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.

 (b)  Staff members of public or private agencies, institutions and facilities. Licensees who are staff members of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, and who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse. Upon notification by the licensee, the person in charge or the designated agent shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made …

Now I am definitely no expert in Pennsylvania law and there can be other statutes that may apply that I am unaware of. But based on what I have here I think it is pretty clear that under this disclosure law, Paterno fulfilled the state required minimum by reporting the incident to his superiors. Now be aware, the question as to whether or not a college football coach comes into contact with children so regularly that he has a reporting responsibility is a separate issue.

So he fulfilled his legal requirement based on a very simple layman’s interpretation of the law of the State of Pennsylvania. But did he fulfill his moral responsibility?

Let’s just make that second question as simple as possible? –

Do you call the police when you have discovered someone was anally assaulting a small boy in the locker room of your team?

If you can truthfully answer that with a “no,” I guess you have reason to riot.

James Pilant

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