Overheard on CNN.com: Readers weigh in on Paterno
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is facing calls to resign amid a sex abuse scandal.
November 8th, 2011
04:33 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers weigh in on Paterno

Comments of the day:

“JoePa needs to GoPa.” –Peter
“I always thought we were innocent until proven guilty?” -Flipturn

Penn State coach under fire

Amid allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused young boys in a Penn State football facility – one incident was reported to coach Joe Paterno – some are calling for the 84-year-old head of the Nittany Lion’s resignation or firing.

But CNN.com readers were torn. Although many said Paterno should have done more than report the incident, others said they believe Paterno did what he thought he was supposed to do.

Withpeace said, “Sadly, it comes down to choices. Joe Paterno chose to set the standard of excellence – a code of honor – for Penn State. Yet, when a true test of moral and ethical judgment was put to him ... he failed and betrayed every honorable thing he ever did. In the end, all we have is our honor and Mr. Paterno is not an honorable man for allowing children be put in harms way to save a monster.”

Joan said, “He should admit that he didn't do enough, and apologize at the very least... then at the end of the season he should retire. He's had a great run... leave with dignity but leave none the less. His reputation will always be scarred by this and rightly so. How would anyone feel if their child had been victimized and it could have been stopped if he had been more forceful and followed through with making sure there was an appropriate investigation? Very disappointing to say the least.”

College players dad said, “There is no way in hell I would want any of my sons currently playing for other teams to be recruited by any college team with a coach that lacks moral grounding such as Paterno is showing now. Parents with sons that have committed to this program should think twice about sending them to Happy Valley this fall. FBS, the NCAA and college sports in general are a mess. This is just another example of it all.”

Calijoe said, “On the story as I have it so far, Paterno should definitely NOT quit. He was given a single unsubstantiated, uncorroborated report. He reported it to the athletic director. His actions were correct. That said, America and its press love vengeance, so he'll probably be forced out.”

Jason, Chicago IL said, “Paterno stood by while one of his coaches was raping children. ‘Stepping down’ is the very least of what he should do.”

PSU Alumini said, “Joe did report this incident. It was brought it to the attention of his superiors. Joe Paterno has done nothing wrong. He is not guilty of any wrong doing. This is just a smear campaign to destroy his reputation. Be very careful ‘Mass Media.’ This is called slander and defamation of character. Legal action will be taken against you.”

Jnpa responded, “@PSU Alumni...I totally agree. The witch hunt is on for Paterno. Everyone wants to bring down a ‘big guy.’ ”

Earl Weaver said, “I'm very disappointed in Paterno. A feeling I never thought I would have. Joe is the last person on the planet I would ever think would be associated with something like this. It would be like a scandal involving your grandfather. Unfortunately, it's all about winning. Joe needs to step down. So sad.”

Tom said, “I'm no Penn State fan by any means but this it total BS! The man did not witness this alleged incident. He was told by a graduate assistant of the incident. Remember the blade of justice is double edged and anyone who knows anything about employee law etc. knows that there are strict policies about how these things are to be handled. Knock this witch hunt off and focus on the perv who did the deed!”

Al T responded, “Well, gee Tom. I would think, and I hope most people would think, that you err on the side of protecting a child. Now I'm starting to think that I'm in the minority on this one. The janitor didn't do it. McQuery didn't do it. Paterno didn't do it. Curley didn't do it. Schultz didn't do it. Spainer didn't do it. Obviously, you wouldn't have either. Thus, again, the reason why such a travesty can occur.”

Jnpa said, “It has come to a point in all these discussions and media columns that Joe Paterno is as guilty as Sandusky. People are getting it all wrong. Some even think that Paterno was the one who saw them, and others feel that Paterno is the athletic director. I think things are getting completely out of hand.”

Clarke said, “Well, Joe told his boss which is correct. His boss dropped the ball and when that happened, Joe should have then taken action. I wonder if it had been their own child what would they have done. They should both step down or be let go. Shame on them.”

Stef said, “He did the very minimum by reporting to his superiors...the minimum, something he would NEVER accept from one of his players, thus allowing this freak to continue to abuse kids. Shame on him. And I say this as a Penn State alumni.”

JOHN LANE said, “Shame on Penn State if they force out Joe Paterno. He will be the fall guy at 84 years old, when the head of the athletic department WAS TOLD BY PATERNO AND DID NOTHING. BUNCH OF BS!”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (145 Responses)
  1. College Football Fan

    Shame on America for trusting the mass media that reports false or partially true information. NOBODY KNOWS what Joe knew about the scandal as it was unfolding. Joe told his superior, the AD, and that is exactly what he should have done. The AD dropped the ball, and he should be fired. Under the law, you cannot report hearsay evidence to the police, and things like this should be handled up the chain of command within the university.

    Everyone needs to calm down until more information comes out.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seamus

      Sorry, but Joe Pa had his chance. Whether he was right or wrong doesn't matter. He will be forced out because the University cannot recover otherwise.

      November 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I think the point that is missed here is that ALL head coaches are responsible for the football program. This means Mr. Paterno is responsible for the coaches he hires and fires as well as the players he recruits and disciplines. In this regard, Mr. Paterno had responsibility to report the issue, but also to follow up on the issue since this man was still considered part of the football program. There was previous history of this which should have prompted immediate ban from the campus and disassociation along with a report to the authorities at a minimum. Although Mr. Paterno clearly is a great man who has done a lot for Penn State, he still is responsible for those officially associated with his program. Since it's his program to run, he clearly had / has the initiative and weight to remove hazards that bring the program's integrity to question. Implying otherwise is simply naive. It is sad that a man who's had such a great career can be associated and have his program's reputation tarnished by someone with a highly egregious past. Again, Mr. Paterno hired him, and this man was doing this while actively on his staff. I think the people calling this BS really need to get a clue about responsibility.

      November 8, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Why do you think you know the law about hearsay? Any SUSPECTED child abuse is required to be reported to the POLICE.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Imagine being a parent of one of the children, now knowing that Joe thought it was enough to report it to his A.D., and doing nothing else to protect the children. It's simple, throw him (and the university president) out, NOW! If i were a player i would refuse to participate witht the team till he's gone. It's time to say definitively "this was wrong, is wrong, and must stop"

    November 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shelli

    Here's the piece I don't get. This incident happened 15 years or so ago. Who is the person that finally did call the police? The two guys that were arrested did not. Joe did not. How did the police get involved at this point so late in the game?? Driving me crazy that there is no reporting on how the authorities were finally clued in to this mess.

    November 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Albion

      The high school of the last victim made the call. Sandusky has been guest coaching there, and abusing a boy he groomed...

      November 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    He should have done something about this if he knew but then again, there all these right-wing fools who have a very dawinistic philosophy, that is, that might makes right no matter who gets hurt!

    November 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tp_NitLion

    Sadly there is no winner in this case even if justice is served. The kids will never get their innocence back, an old man will be made to take the fall, this proud university when the dust settles will pick up the pieces but may never be proud again......all because of one man (who will get his day in court)! I'm a proud alum, I've bled blue and white for 7 years and will always bleed blue and white! Before jumping on any band wagon I want answers as why this has happened and why it was allowed to happen and more importantly what has happened (within the university.....what cause all these people not to take action?)! I don't know what Joe was going through when this happened and I'm in no position to judge what he did, maybe he did take action, maybe he didn't know what to believe, maybe it was on advice of others.........maybe it was just one very very bad mistake (in 60 odd years) on his part for not taking more action, who knows! But does he deserve the benefit of doubt – yes he does. Do the kids deserve justice – yes they do.
    Whatever the outcome, I hope the officials at my dear old State finally figure out the right thing to do, and not continue doing what they've done so far! My message – stop cancelling conference, stop letting people defend themselves, and stop hiding the truth.
    I always have been, am and will always be a Nittany Lion! I just wish I could be proud again!

    November 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    Maybe there's something here that I don't get. My understanding is that Paterno did not actually see anything. He reported second hand information to his superiors. Why is the focus not on the witness, the graduate student who actually saw this incident take place? Why did he think it was enough to just tell the coach?

    For future reference, if any of you are a grad student in a locker room, and see a staff member molesting a boy, heres what you do:

    1) Pummel Sandusky unconscious
    2) Make sure the boy is OK
    3) Call the police.

    Again, walking out like a dork and telling the coach some time later just isn't good enough. I don't know why anyone would think it is.

    November 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Albion

      "Ran and called his Daddy," is how a mom of one of the boys described it.

      November 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • I don't get it??

      great point, Think about it this way. We've all seen it in our life time, the guy/girl who is considered by everyone as "perfect" does everything the right was, and succeeds doing it the right way. The second there is the oppurtunity to ruin this person's reputation there will be countless jealous, envious people who will try to lead to their down fall. This is what I believe is happening here.

      November 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. I don't get it??

    So if Joe Pa did the very minimum and did'nt do what he was suppose to do, then what exactly more is it that you critics wanted him to go head and do? The man was told about an allegation, he reported it and I'm sure approached Sandusky to find out the truth. Think about it folks, Sandusky probally swore on his life he would never do such an act, he lead a foundation to help children, AT THE TIME making it even more unbelievable he would commit such a crime. Obviously, the AD and VP never said the allegations were true since their charged with perjury and have since resigned. So put yourself in his shoes, you feel as if you have done all you should have and the man alleged of committing the crime is looking you in the eye denying the act, your superiors have denied the allegations as well. Why would he pursue further action if he truly believed that the man was innocent. It's easy to say after the fact that more should have been done, but everyone else never saw this coming, why then was Joe suppose to know this was happening. Let's focus on the what really matter's the criminal and also the victims, being the children, Happy valley and Joe Paterno the person.

    November 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. little J

    Why smart people did stupid things like that? See What's on people's mind @octorama.com/desktop/display-1801

    November 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Stephanie

    Actually, it is required by law to report even suspected child abuse, and not doing so is a punishable crime. I realize that there are several people in this situation who ultimately failed to do what they should have done, and because of that, more children were left defenseless, but saying you should not report child abuse because you did not witness it yourself is a terrible excuse. I am a social worker and have worked at the abuse hotline in another state. I can;t imagine how many children would continue to be abused if we didn't receive reports from teachers, parents, friends, or professionals who suspected something or saw a bruise or something like that. Even if you do not witness abuse, does not mean you should not report it, and in this case, any of the men who knew, saw, or suspected what was going on, failed these children by not reporting it directly to law enforcement or a child welfare agency.

    November 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    Agreed, Paterno could have done more. I just don't see why he is the main point of focus here.

    November 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      I suppose it is because the other two men who are being charged have resigned and people feel Paterno should do the same because he is the more prominent figure in this University, but the more I read the more frustrated I am getting with this "Graduate Assistant" who didn't jump in and stop this as it was happening. I know it must have been disturbing and shocking, but geeze, I couldn't live with myself if I just left and went home after that.

      November 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. George Patton

    Those right wing thugs in Washington allowed this to happen.......................

    I wish it was me and Philip in that shower. That would be sweet.

    November 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. They should have called the police

    The official indictments in this case make it clear that these men have been doing this for at least18 years. Not once did ANYONE call the police. Joe Paterno and anyone else that knew should have IMEDIATELY alerted authorities.

    November 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    @General George S. Patton. The real General Patton would have just got out of the shower, borrowed a Sherman Tank, and blasted the whole University down, then drove the tank to the offices of Second Mile "charities", erloaded, and blasted that place down as well. Innocent casualties of war are acceptable, ask most anyone. This IS a real war we have here folks, one that we've been losing just as surely as we have been losing the War on Drugs. We need a new General to plan the G-day invasion. And we have that General in the CIA's Domestic Affairs division in Denver. There will be many casualties and many more prisoners of war.taken as the CIA invades every single religion and childrens "charities". Do not resist and do not lie you boy rayepers and you who cover for men whom abuse women and children. You WILL be waterboarded if you do. FACT

    November 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    Semper freaking Fidelis.

    November 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Philip

    @Chris...no, the point being missed is that this is going on in every single univercity and church...virtually every organization from police forces to childrens charities have hidden in themselves men just like the ones in this case. This is a National issue not an isolated event. Laws need changed that would allow for men like these to be tried and convicted of statutory raype, and give minimum prison sentences for any who knew yet kept a cork in their piehole. And these laws have already been written in The Victory Act of Congress. Once siged into law, this War on those men whom physically abuse women and children AND their enabling accomplices will be dealt with most harshly. (and of course their are women whom abuse men even their own children...others who look the other way in exchange for man meat and reduced rent) All will be dealt with as Operation Cleansweep gets underway. If you cannot keep yourself from abusing or aiding in the abuse of children, it's time for you to leave this great land.

    November 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Think

      Counseling services are only a phone call away. It's over reactions like this that cloud the issue at hand.

      November 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gotcha

      Wow. Trolling CAN be fun. Heh heh heh.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ConTroll

      It's time you took your meds. We mean it. I'ts really time you took your meds.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
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