Sexual Abuse Also Happens Outside of Penn State

[Trigger warning for sexual abuse]

The day after the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Joe Paterno and PSU president Graham Spanier for covering up rape and sexual abuse by assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a woman called the Syracuse police to allege that Syracuse assistant men's basketball coach Bernie Fine had molested one of her friends over an extended period of time. This set off a chain of events that has thus far led Syracuse University to fire coach Fine.

Authorities are closely examining the allegations against Fine nine years after this victim first contacted the Syracuse police and the Syracuse Post-Standard, eight years after he contacted ESPN, and six years after SU conducted an internal investigation. (Deadspin has a timeline of events.)

A few things have changed since 2002. Syracuse has a new police chief. In light of both the renewed interest in the allegations and events at Penn State, two more victims have came forward. As Fine allegedly abused one of these men in another state, the federal government still has time left under the statute of limitations to prosecute the coach. This was not the case with alleged abuse that occurred within New York. Oh, and also a pair of famous college coaches at Penn State are in deep trouble because one of them raped and otherwise abused some children, while the other one covered for him.

Now the police, media, and SU are suddenly very interested in finding out what happened.

Call me skeptical, but it seems like Joe Paterno has to get fired for folks with power to care about coaches sexually abusing children. This, in turn, discourages victims from coming forward.

Since Fine's first accuser came forward, he's been ignored for years and publicly condemned by legendary SU men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim (who subsequently issued a tepid quasi-apology). Meanwhile, after SU fired the abuser in light of substantial evidence that corroborates the victim's allegations, the Syracuse Post-Standard still seems unclear about nine years' worth of inaction. ("When the allegations first broke", SU did not "quickly [place] Fine on administrative leave" [emphasis mine].)

True to form, today's New York Times contains a lengthy story on Bernie Fine, much of which details what a great guy he is, despite getting fired for molesting boys.

As long as were swimming in a rape culture, sexual abuse will continue to be appallingly common and largely unprosecuted.

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