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. Nadean

    While having breakfest this morning I saw a story about this couple who had left their 6 month old baby in the car for an hour, in the WINTER. Now I can only imagine if anyone had seen this infant all alone in that car, voices would have been RAISED. Why then were those voices NOT raised for these boys for over TEN YEARS!
    Who would keep walking on by a scene with a filthy excuse for a human being, while he raypes a little boy? No not you, nor I , and I could never be silent again.
    Parapharsing "whoever cares for the LEAST of me, cares for me" same is true for anyone who stands around holding their tongue is JUST as GUILTY as the actual criminal.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • joe53ist

      Paterno told someone. Pilate washed his hands. Both are still reprehensible.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gandhus

    This is a hatchet job by people whose motives are varied. People who simply like to see someone fail, especially someone as accomplished as Mr. Paterno. People who like to feign or over-exaggerate their own outrage in order to make themselves appear morally superior. Columnists and internet commentators who use this as an opportunity to showcase their elaborate, melodramatic and often spiteful writing styles in overly critical comments. A media who stands much to gain by way of taking down such a well-known public figure with their pointed stories and of course, Penn State haters. Let's not forget, Joe Paterno didn't abuse anybody. And who is the ONE person no one is talking about? The alleged perpetrator of these vile acts – Sandusky! Why is every visual associated with this story one of JoePa? Why didn't the graduate assistant call the police instead of going to JoePa? Why didn't the graduate assistant physically intervene at time of discovery? The police were alerted to incidents regarding Sandusky as far back as 1998. Why is the burden falling on anyone surrounding this man who have done nothing wrong? This is sad for many reasons: the abuse of children, the unjust tarnishing of a great man's reputation and career and further proof that our society is nothing more than a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, hypercynical & misguided mob.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Of course people are outraged by Sandusky. But the court system will deal with him. The articles here deal with Paterno, et. al. because they failed in their legal duty to report suspected child abuse to the police, and allowed continued abuse to multiple other children. Get it?

      November 9, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • LUCY

      PATERNO IS THE RESULT OF A WITCH HUNT AND YOU KNOW IT! tRASHING THIS MAN BECAUSE HE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT DID ANYTHING? ARE YOU INSANE?? WHAT ABOUT HATING THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY HAD A RESPONSIBILITY AND DIN'T DO A GD THING??? wHAT ABOUT THE GRAD STUDENT WHO SAW IT?? WHAT'S HE DOING? HAS HE RESIGNED? HE WITNESSED IT!!!!

      November 9, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Anyone who knew about the incidents and failed to report to the police is in the same boat as Paterno. They all should have protected the children.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Norman Bryant

      "Making life better", PSU's motto. JoePa failed.

      November 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. OSU Fan

    The NCAA will rightfully suspend players for getting "perks" or being paid to give autographs so it seems like they should have A LOT to say in this matter. Even if Jerry Sandusky isn't guilty of what he's been accused of it was still Coach Paterno's moral obligation to report what he had been told to the authorities which he failed to do. It's time to apologize to the public and gracefully step down.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Diz Denooch

    Last thing I'm gonna say on this subject, and once again...I encourage you all to read the grand jury report.

    This is directly from the grand jury report:

    "Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Joe Paterno and Tim Curley, in
    which Paterno reported "disturbing" and "inappropriate" conduct in the shower by Sandusky
    upon a young boy, as reported to him (Paterno) by a student or graduate student."

    Gary Schultz was the Senior VP for Finance and Business, who also oversaw the Penn State University Police Department.

    If that's not "calling the police", what is?

    It's time to apologize to Joe Paterno. He did exactly what he was supposed to both legally and morally. End of discussion.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Calling the police is dialing 911.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. CDB

    I find it interesting that everyone's screaming that Paterno should have gone to the police with what amounts to 'hearsay', but no one's saying anything about the grad student who WITNESSED the inappropriate behavior and reported it to a COACH rather than going to police.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Exactly! Joe could have been sued for harassment had he not gone in the path that he did of turning the report over to the school to investigate. Thank you for being the one sensible voice!

      November 9, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • DougP

      Any educator receiving such a report from a staff member should be telling the staff member to contact police or should be contacting police themselves. Hearsay has nothing to do with it. The police then do their job and investigate. That is how it is supposed to work.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Father Magillicytty

    Ummm, excuse me cardinal Ratzinger, but this boy here and his dad say he's been rayped by father Postholedig again. "Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I'll alert the Vatican Police. You see to it that the boys dad goes home and leave me to care for the boy. It's ok. I'm an official Boy Scout volunteer.".

    November 9, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Reck

    Can the old man!

    November 9, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    Joe was not an eye witness. A graduate student came to him with a report that he passed on...why isn't the former Grad student under fire for not calling the police directly? How can Joe be held accountable for something he was not a witness to. If he had gone to the police then the police would have said that it was hearsay. So back off people and get a realistic grip of what happened, and who REALLY should have made reports...and note, I can't stand Penn State but I despise witch hunts even more.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. bill

    Everyone just needs to step back and make sure they are seeing the whole picture. From what I have heard and seen in the media Joe did not see this it was something that was reported to him and just like any company in America he reported it like he should have to the superior person. It was then that persons choice to act or not to act. If Joe had seen the act in person instead of hearing of this second hand I feel this would have all been handled differently. We all know that we have been told things n our lives only to find out that they either were not true or are only partially true. We need to let this take it course through the court system and once we have heard and seen all of the evidence then we can make a reasonable judgment of right and wrong. For now we should presume that he did what he said he did and let him do his job.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. DougP

    Uhh, reporting such an assault on a minor to your boss, knowing your boss has done next to nothing about it and then just ignoring the matter is not acceptable behavior for any educator.

    November 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DougP

    And yeah, the grad assistant's behavior was also unbelievable. According to his own testimony he saw the assault occurring, called his dad (who told him to run away) and basically left the child to be further assaulted. The assistant wasn't some kid. He was a 29 year old ex football player. This guy is also going to get the boot.

    November 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carole Clarke

    A great coach will have his reputation and his legacy ruined by an assistant who molested little boys. While he did report the attack as required, he did not follow up to make sure it was being appropriately handled nor did he relieve the assistant of his duties until after the matter was investigated. Alot of people fell down on the job as well as Coach Paterno. Did the parents know? If they had been told, why weren't they screaming bloody murder? Molesters count on people not wanting to know, being too squeamish to do something and their own ability to hide in plain sight and deceive everyone. Now the molester will be brought to justice but too late to protect his other victims. What do we need to do to be proactive on this subject?

    November 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • cdb

      Actually, the assistant had retired 3 years before the incident.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dan

    What did I miss? I like JoePa and have been a fan for many years, but at what point do we as a society allow the people who are aware of child molestation, and did not take the appropriate actions to stop it and make sure the violators are brought to justice to continue in their jobs until it is convenient and kind to let them step down? At what point do we accept that his, or anyone’s, lack of follow up and lack of persistence to make sure these kids are protected be accepted If he was aware, and did not protect these kids, his position requires he step down, why is that not immediate, along with the AD?
    Allowing Joe Paterno, and the AD to step down at their convenience is sending the wrong message to these kids and all others involved in such abuse. It is a slap in the face of justice. If this was anyone else in your everyday life, your child’s teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a fire fighter, your neighbor, they would be fired immediately, and put under investigation. Dare I be the one to suggest it, but with the relationship Joe had with Sandusky, and his nonprofit involving kids, who is to say Joe was not involved with molesting these kids as well. Point being he needs to be removed until all investigations are complete.
    This another case of selective justice.

    November 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Don

    Sad when a society is so obsessed and infatuated with celebrity that they would let their kids be abused. If it was the "creepy guy at the park" would you cut him some slack? This is what's wrong with American society in case you're confused. Fame, celebrity, and wealth mean more to society than people and in this case children.

    November 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John-Ohio

    Joe did nothing wrong except not to follow up with the Athletic Director after the initial incident was reported. The possibility of slander and law suits are very real in cases where accusations are made that turn out to be false. The Athletic Director should have brought in the police to investigate.
    I expect that Paterno thought that the AD had looked in on it, found nothing wrong, and the matter was closed. I do see that Joe has announced his retirement. You will be missed.
    Hopefully, History will be kinder to Joe Paterno then the Media fueled witch-hunt that is going on in the present.

    November 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Wrong. He did do something wrong. He should have reported it, a brutal crime against a child, to the police. It doesn't matter if he did not witness it. Suspected child abuse is required to be reported to the police. The priority of protecting a child is more important than false accusations. That's why if your child's pediatrician, counselor, teacher, etc. even SUSPECT child abuse, they are mandated by law to report it to the police and child welfare agencies. Working for a university, this should have been drilled into their heads.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
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