Professor Jared Rosenblatt offered a stern rebuke to Penn State University for its decision to honor its late football coach Joe Paterno, who ignored the abuse of children by a subordinate, in an opinion piece published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sept. 16.
An independent report on the sexual assaults on children by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky determined that Paterno “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade,” Rosenblatt wrote, adding that Paterno had been Sandusky’s boss and confident for more than 30 years.
“Yet, instead of placing a permanent sticker on its football helmets to recognize sexual-abuse victims or erecting a permanent tribute outside the stadium, the talk around Happy Valley is to resurrect the statue of Paterno,” Rosenblatt said.
Penn State’s decision to celebrate Paterno “encourages victims of sexual abuse to remain silent,” Rosenblatt said, adding that victims commonly do not disclose abuse because they fear that they will not be believed and that the system will not treat them fairly.
CBS Chicago columnist Dan Bernstein cited Rosenblatt’s op-ed in his own commentary, arguing that “the Big Ten Conference shouldn’t sit idly and silently as one of its member institutions acts in such a despicable manner.”
Rosenblatt contrasted Penn State’s actions with the recent uproar over the six-month sentence that former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner served after being convicted of rape.
“Turner's sentence was without question too short,” he said. “But the conversation about sexual abuse should now be focused on the shameful acts of Penn State…In announcing its tribute to Paterno, the university loudly declared that college football is more important to the institution than encouraging victims of sexual abuse to report their crimes to law enforcement.”
The associate director of the Trial Advocacy Program, Rosenblatt is a former senior assistant district attorney with the Queens District Attorney’s Office who worked for several years in the Special Victims Bureau.
His op-ed also appeared in the Post-Star of Glens Falls, N.Y. and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah.