Recently my involvement with the Second Mile has again come into question.
In response to complaints raised by a small but vocal group, Penn State rescinded an invitation for me to participate in a pre-game military appreciation ceremony at the Penn State-Army game because of fear that some alumni are offended by my association with the Second Mile.
I was nominated and selected to participate in these pre-game events to represent the Vietnam era West Pointer. It was intended to be a tribute to the men and women with whom I served, not me personally. As a local businessman and Penn State alumnus, it was an honor to be asked to represent my fellow West Point graduates and military veterans who proudly served our country.
When the calls came to rescind the invitation, I believe that it dishonored not only the group that I was invited to represent, but dishonored me personally. The implication was that I was under a shadow of suspicion and had done something wrong. This was hard for me to explain to my grandchildren.
To those who still believe that the Second Mile as an organization, its employees, or affiliates including myself had some culpability in the Sandusky scandal based on conjecture, I hope to shed some light and context on the decisions that were made over a decade ago, at least as it relates to me and my role with these events.
These insights begin with one simple truism: Nobody that I know had any inkling that Jerry might be a pedophile.
It never occurred as a possibility until the release of the 2011 Grand Jury presentment that shocked a nation, destroyed a great charity, devastated a town, impugned a university, and by implication its wide alumni base, and maligned a personal friend, partner, and icon who did everything he was supposed to do with the information he had: Joe Paterno.
In the five years when I worked out at the Penn State football facility with some of the football staff (back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s), I personally saw Jerry maybe two or three times in the shower with younger kids. He wasn’t alone with a child; it was the middle of the day and there were dozens of other people in the gym and locker room area.
It is important to note that in my generation, especially for athletes, taking showers in an open locker room with no privacy after exercising or participating in a sport was standard and normal behavior, regardless of age. It was not uncommon to see grown men with younger children together in a group shower. We grew up with it and, to a far lesser extent with changing societal norms, it continues today in gyms and health clubs all over the country.
At the time I worked out in the Penn State facilities, it just never occurred to me or others who saw him that Jerry may have been using what was a routine part of athletics and sport culture to groom young boys for inappropriate behavior.