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. jk

    While the alleged charges against Sandusky are horrific and allegedly corroborated by witnesses, we must remember that our system is predicated upon being innocent until proven guilty by a jury of your peers. To ask Joe to step down when the crime itself has not yet been proven, is premmature, and reflects yet another case of how people and the media love to arrest, try, and convict. Joe did what he was supposed to do. He reported the incident to his superiors and if you have ever worked in any corporate or government workplace, that is what you are supposed to do. Should he have done more? The facts will unfold and we will find out. I am a parent, I am a Penn State grad and longtime Nittany Lion football fanatic. I want justice, not a witch hunt. Let our legal system do its job. Remember Casey Anthony and how everyone was sure she was guilty? Remember OJ? Remember the poor man in Georgia that was just executed for a crime that he probably did not commit. We have to let our legal system do its job. Judge lest ye not be judged. AND if this all turns out to be true once heard in a court of law, then Joe needs to step down.

    November 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      jk, you hit the nail on the head. I would hope most sensible people could give Joe the benefit of a doubt until the court system works this out, which could take years. Joe wasn't found at fault according to the law and none of us know the entire story. If Joe was so at fault, where was his warrant? So, asking him to resign or be terminated is very premature. Place any blame where it belongs, on Sandusky, IF he is found guilty. Any of us would expect the same if charged with a crime. Finally, this is not a reflection on PENN STATE. It is a reflection on those who took the actions.

      November 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    @jk...get a clue. The hands of our legal system have been handcuffed by our own gay sympathetic Supreme Court who has ruled that men whom raype boys younger than the age of consent cannot be tried for statutory raype. Reseacrh it. If courts simply charged these men who slak and raype just boys, thousands and thousands of religious leaders and church members would be in prison rather than being free to register as offenders and roam..

    November 8, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • patricia

      philip i dont think that the supreme court was making it easier for gay men to abuse boys since most abusers are not gay but are men in on going relationships with women get your facts right this coach did as most of them do he hid behind his woman but i agree it was a bad call on the courts part as far as the coach what do you think he thought paterno was doing with these boys he knew about the 2002 abuse hes an educated man turning a blind eye to whats going on in his own locker room no excuse no more than the morons on the bench making it easier for these monsters to do these things patricia

      November 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rick

    A man, a friend and former co-worker is caught in the act. The behavior is clearly harmful. It is undoubtedly compulsive. What action do his friends and former peers take? They make sure that it doesn't happen again on their turf. Paterno and the other PSU administrators have not only allowed children to be endangered, they have let down their friend who truly needed their help. Sandusky needed accountability so that he could get help. Instead he got told to go away. Coaches teach values, through their words and their actions. Those who defend the coach – what would you want your son's coach to do? What is the message?

    November 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tony In Largo

    No Joe Paterno does not have to go. He reported an incident that he had knowledge of immediately when it happened. He did the right thing. Should we penalize someone simply because they were in the vicinity of an up-to-this-moment reported crime? I don't think so. Joe Paterno is not and could not be accuser, judge, jury and executioner. No one can be that. I didn't attend Penn State ,but Joe Paterno has done nothing wrong and he doesn't have to go, period. Joe Paterno is an American Hero and Icon, and Lord knows that we need some more like him nowadays.

    November 8, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio ) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Bla Bla Bla

    November 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio ) "Right Wing Insanity"

    You AND Sandusky...stay away from my dog!

    November 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Patti

    Joe Patermo reported it. Did he ever ask what had happened to his report or wonder why no police ever came to talk to him. Any normal person would want to ask his friend Jerry what was going on. He did the minimum required and helped let a child abuser continue for 6 more years. I have read the Grand Jury findings and Penn State is in trouble.

    November 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    @jk like philip said get a clue.With any other coach it may be possible tn wait for the courts to have their say,but with coach paterno if you wish to wait that long he may be in the ground first .In my opinion coach paterno before saturdays game need to sit and talk to each player and appoligize for what happenned then resigne or be fired the choice should be his

    November 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Yeeowzahh

    I'm thinking if it was JoePa's grandson that was the reported victim...this plays out differently 10 years ago.

    November 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gung hoe

    @yeowsaghh yeowsagh good point .I really believe that if this sandusky if found guilty ,I think he sandusky should be sterilized

    November 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. s kel

    He will have his face pressed up against a wall in prison while getting drilled from behind with a mop.

    November 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jaydog

    Joe Paterno should be arrested . He obviously covered up for Sandusky hoping it would all go away. Otherwise he would have ended up reporting it to the authorities when his superiors didn't. He's a sicko.

    November 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nel pobanz

    Let's look at the real culprit–Graham Spanier, the president of the university, who knew and is responsible for final decision making on the case. He should be ousted NOW. JoePa is taking all the heat–way too much; but, he is the only one we can really look to to speak for Penn State. How long will he be gagged? I wish he would retire now and speak up, but I know lawyers can get very protective. Our prayers are with you Coach to do what you know to be right.

    November 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diz Denooch

      This is a very good point. The majority of the anti-Paterno sentiment is coming from people who have bought into the belief that he "runs" the university and knows everything that's going on there. The guy is in his 80's for God's sake, and he doesn't have a hold on much of anything anymore beyond being the (token) head coach of the football program. Sure, that's significant, but it's painfully obvious that he's not acting in full capacity anymore, so no...he's not really overseeing it all. There were suits sitting in bigger chairs than his at Penn State, and they are (as indicated by the grand jury report) responsible for the lack of action that took place there.

      November 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    Well, close the school, I say!
    What are they thinking?
    If a priest is caught molesting, close the church! Nay, close the parish! Wait, close down the RCC and the vatican! What? You say that priests aren't the only men of god that does this? Ban religion! Outlaw it!
    Boy Scout Leaders? Instead of putting away the abuser, let's be proactive! Abolish the Boy Scouts! Yes! Let's demonize every organization that has ever had a pervert amongst them!
    Ban men! Yep! Ban them all!
    What? WOMEN molest children too? Why there ought to me a law! There is? Huh? Enforce it? What a novel idea! I don't like it. Burn her at the stake! Burn them all!!! Hahahaha!

    Obviously, this is not how I feel; but it is an indicator how some people will take an incident and, in their thirst for justice, paint a broad-stroke picture of things.

    If Joe Paterno did something wrong that is provable, he should resign.
    If he was actively involved in a cover-up, he should resign. If he failed to follow protocol, he should resign. If he didn't, then leave him the hell alone, and go after the ones who did.
    I, personally agree with Bimbo, the graduate student flat out *caught* Sandusky rayping the boy, and didn't do a thing, either. Why nobody thinks this isn't a problem is beyond me.
    My eyes would have been scarred for life.
    Paterno did what he was supposed to do. He reported it. Because people don't thing he bled enough is hardly the issue; the chain of command dropped the ball far more than he did.

    November 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diz Denooch

      Thank you for adding some common sense to the discussion. The saddest thing about this story is that there are more people calling for Joe Paterno's head than for Sandusky's. It's no secret that Paterno's distractors have been calling for his resignation for years because he's old. How much more obvious could it be that those same people are spearheading this overwhelming effort to pile it on. It's an unfortunate reality in America, but the media finds it absolutely scintillating to jump on the growing bandwagon of negativity when the opportunity presents itself. Take a look around this page...it's a great way to sell ad space.

      November 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DougP

    Anyone who thinks Paterno 'did enough' is flat out insane. This is all pretty simple: When you see somebody raping a child you report it to the police. When somebody tells you they saw somebody raping a child you tell them to report it to the police. If that person does not report it and you think their account is in anyways credible then you report it yourself. That's it. You don't just tell your boss and then willfully forget the whole thing. I pray to god that the child of any of these Paterno boosters does not end up in a similar situation and is so abandoned and ignored.

    November 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diz Denooch

      So, how does your formula work if you don't entirely believe what you heard was possible? You know a guy for years, work with him, trust him, and then some assistant tells you they saw him do what? You'd have your doubts immediately based on knowing that man for over 30 years. Predators as deviant as Sandusky can hide their dark side from anyone. The grand jury facts say that Paterno forwarded the matter to the Athletic Director, which is solid proof that he didn't blow it off, even when he had his doubts. Bark up the right tree, not just the popular one.

      November 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Gee, Diz Dinooch, Paterno and all the others are "educators", and mandated reporters. Any SUSPECTED child abuse is required to be reported to the Police, not your boss. They and child welfare agencies do the investigation. If you saw a child being stabbed, would you just go tell your boss? It's a crime!

      November 8, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
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