This entry contains identifying information, but is being made public because this is important. Those who find me, may find me. You might not agree with what I have to say, but this is how I feel, and I will deal with the consequences. Please use caution- trigger language ahead: child rape.
I met you once, sometime in the spring or summer of 2007. I can't say that you'd remember me. I was walking from my career counseling, trying to find out why I couldn't get a damn callback from the eighteen hundred resumes I'd sent in, reading the Daily Collegian, and trying to look cool, but probably looking like I had a terrible case of gas. You had just finished a conversation with a young kid and what I assumed to be his Mom, and were walking away from The Creamery. I said "hey" and you said "hey" back. And that was it.
I didn't think about it until a few weeks ago, when the horrors finally became public knowledge. I didn't think about it at all until the allegations came out, and your testimony was released to the sharks by a "computer error."
And then I thought about it. A lot.
A lot of people think you failed those kids. A lot of people think you turned a blind eye to what was happening, that somehow Sandusky showed a side to you that he managed to keep hidden from his wife. His daughter. The hundreds of players he got through the program. People think that you, because you were so high-profile, so near a football god, you should have known.
And now I'm talking about it.
For whatever reason, whoever he paid off or whatever statute of limitations is through, I can't find the news article anymore. But it's still a matter of public record , and they can't hide that.
From 1997 through 2001, I was in my high school band, director Salvatore Lovano. We were quite proud of it, what we had done, and I was rather proud of myself. We had transformed a rather mundane marching band into a precision team, that didn't even need flag corps or drum majors, because we did our own dances, in the style of Ohio University. I had transformed myself from a dorky freshman with braces to a dorky senior, who was able to put myself right out in front of everyone playing the trumpet. There's a picture in the yearbook someone was able to capture of me, my cheeks puffed out like Louis Armstrong, putting my heart and soul into Santanna's "Smooth". It was a home game, I remember- at the time, my parents were working the concessions at the time, to raise money for the inevitable new equipment and uniform repairs we would need, with how physical we could be. In my teenage mind, I was in my element- nothing could be more perfect.
In retrospect, it should have been obvious. Certain girls getting more leeway, more favors, regardless of talent. Dancing with the girls at social events. How nice he was to girls whose parents were absent, or had no mothers. The "dirty old man" comments that were laughed off. The way we went through assistant band directors like water- a new one every year, couldn't let them get too close.
It should have been obvious. It wasn't. We were all too close, to a man. We were all too close to see.
Let me tell you something about my Mom, Coach. You might be a hero of mine, how my Dad and I used to watch the games, and cheer for Penn State because you put academics first, and made sure all of your guys graduated- Mom's a Saint, even a goddess. She helped SO many kids fight abuse, neglect, get help. She was on a first name basis with the Sheriff, because of how many shitheads she brought to justice. I remember nights when I wasn't allowed to go to the door alone, because of the subhumans who brought threats against her, for getting their broken, beaten children to a safe place. You would think, out of anyone, she would have known. But no one knew- no one knew until the minute that the report came out that his computers had been seized, and he was taken into custody.
My brother was in his daughter's class. I remember him saying how he was such a nice girl, and was just starting to come out of her shell when all this went down. I feared for her, prayed for her, hoped that somehow, she'd be able to put this behind her. I still wonder about her, and hope against hope that she turned out OK.
The point is, in this whole ramble, that it's not your fault. You weren't the one hurting those kids, and I can blame you no more than I can blame my own mother. You were a figurehead for the program, and when the troubles happened, well, you were the first to go. But I don't think you knew. I think you thought you could trust Sandusky, to a point, and when this came out, you kicked it up the chain, which... honestly, receiving secondhand information, I would have done the same. And I think when the police failed in their duties... well, you thought the matter settled.
Predators aren't easy to spot. They don't walk around playgrounds in trenchcoats, offering kids candy- they're our football coaches, our band directors, our priests and scout leaders. They groom the kids just as much as the parents, just as much as anyone around them, and the spell, somehow, keeps going, even after they've been caught. One in six boys and one in four of us girls have been victimized at some point in our childhood by these monsters behind a mask. In a just world, they'd be born with a phallic birthmark on their forehead, so we'd all know what dickheads they really were. But they're not. And there's no way to tell until it's too late. I keep trying and trying to tell this story to everyone, shouting it at times, but it seems no matter how many times I try to say it, it doesn't get heard. All everyone hears is "Joe Paterno Failed."
Coach, I don't blame you for what happened. I think you were the victim of a witch hunt that trapped the wrong monster. You may have failed, but your failing was putting your trust in a friend and colleague that wasn't rewarded, and that says a great deal more about him than it does you.
Stay strong, Coach. Fight the cancer. Live to tell your story. I have faith in you, and so do hundreds of thousands of others whose voices are being drowned out. And if it comes out that we've got it wrong, I, for one, will forgive you- I just want to know what happened. I just want to understand, so that I can come to terms with what went on so very, very close to me- to what happened to those girls, to everyone in band with me. But you are a good person, Coach- and to me, that's what you will always be. You are still my hero, and if you tell the truth... you'll never find anyone more loyal.
We are, always have been, and always will be,
- Dear Coach