Sandusky report far from last word

If you are a fan of Penn State, especially of its football program and former head coach Joe Paterno, there is nothing good in the independent investigation of Jerry Sandusky’s 14-year reign of sexual-abuse terror released Thursday.

Longtime football coaching lieutenant Sandusky was convicted last month of sexually attacking 10 young boys, nine of them after several top university officials, including Paterno, were informed as far back as 1998 that Sandusky was under investigation for molestation.

The exhaustive investigation was led by former federal judge and FBI director Louis Freeh. After more than 400 people were interviewed and more than 3.5 million documents were reviewed, Freeh came to this damning conclusion: “Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims … The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

At his press conference, Freeh had stern words for the Paterno apologists who have tried to cast the legendary coach as little more than a benign bystander while young boys were brutalized under his nose.

“The facts are the facts,” he said. “He was an integral part of the act to conceal.”

Indeed, in reference to the oft-cited 2001 shower attack witnessed by then graduate assistant Mike McQueary, the investigation found that while some university officials wanted to report Sandusky to authorities, Paterno argued otherwise.

The investigation lays bare a coach who thought his football program was above the law; a coach prepared to preserve his image at all costs.

Why did so many supposedly smart people make so many stupid choices?

“In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity,” the investigation concludes.

That’s not merely tragic. It’s infuriating.

Penn State’s reputation and Paterno’s legacy are irrevocably tarnished. A once great school and once revered football program will forever conjure thoughts of pubescent boys being sodomized while pinned against shower room walls while university officials selfishly turned a deaf ear to the silent screams.

No one with a conscience will ever be able to walk by Paterno’s bigger-than-life statue on the Penn State grounds without getting sick to their stomach.

The Freeh investigation makes more than 100 recommendations on how Penn State must change to ensure another monster like Sandusky doesn’t stalk its campus again.

But simply changing procedures and leadership systems doesn’t seem like it’s enough. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse. The question now is whether other former or current university officials also will face charges for enabling his rampage, particularly with regards to laws requiring the reporting of sex crimes.

And then there’s the usually uptight NCAA. It must decide what actions, if any, to take against Penn State’s football program.

If no further charges or punishments come as a result of Freeh’s scathing conclusions, then justice will not be served.