Joe Paterno: ‘We’re gonna start praying’ for alleged sex abuse victims

Paul Beaty AP Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who announced Wednesday that he … Continued

Paul Beaty


Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who announced Wednesday that he would be retiring at the end of this season, told reporters that he and his wife would “start praying for those kids that got involved with some of the problems that were talked about.”

Referring to the victims of the alleged sexual abuse by Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, Paterno said Tuesday in a video captured by the Daily Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper: “They don’t deserve it. We owe it to them to say a prayer for them and to make sure that they understand that their life is still one that can be enriched.”

Speaking at his home, Paterno admitted, “There’s been some criticism of the way we’ve handled some of the poor victims. You know, my wife and I, we have 17 grandkids from 16 to three, and we pray for them every night. We’re gonna start praying for those kids that got involved with some of the problems that were talked about.”

The Smoking Gun said what many were thinking when they wrote: ”Paterno did not address, of course, the likelihood that his prayer pledge would be unnecessary had he just called the cops after learning a decade ago that his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was allegedly spotted sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in the shower at the university’s football facility.”

For more on the religious and moral issues raised in this case, read Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s post for On Faith local, on complicity with evil, watch Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s analysis of the moral responsibilities, and check out USA Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman’s article on the parallels from Penn State to the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis.

Elizabeth Tenety
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  • ReindeerDippin

    “start praying for those kids” … so you’ve never prayed for them before, and will start now only because you’ve been caught as an enabler.

  • ccnl1

    This is a global problem affecting all walks of life:

    Some examples:

    “Yet another prominent Orthodox rabbi has been charged with sexual abuse. This time it is Rabbi Mordechai Elon, one of the foremost rabbinic leaders of the Israeli Orthodox movement and former rosh yeshiva at the flagship Yeshivat HaRav, where last year a Palestinian mounted an assault which left several students dead. The result was that students of the yeshiva and other far right Jews went on a rampage and tried to burn down the home of the family of the perpetrator of the attack. Elon’s brother is Benny, a former MK for a far-right pro-settler party.

    At one time the rabbi was so renowned he’d hoped to be named chief rabbi. Alas, that hope is all but dashed as he was charged several years ago with abusing boys at his yeshiva:

    Takana, a rabbinic forum established in 2003 to clamp down on sexual misconduct by Orthodox educators, went public February 15 with allegations that Mordechai “Moti” Elon had taken advantage of his influence over male students and performed “acts at odds with sacred and moral values.”
    The panel later said that two people, whose complaints alleged acts from about 25 years ago, had been under 18 at the time. More recent alleged acts involved students of Elon who were 18 or older. Since its initial disclosure, the panel reports having received one more complaint of an alleged underage encounter…

    What is unusual about this case is that a splinter group of the Orthodox community is taking the position that the entire prosecution is an attempt to destroy rabbinic authority and the Orthodox movement. It calls for refusal to cooperate with state authorities (or to deal with the charge through a beyt din).”

  • lepidopteryx

    You owe them a hell of lot more than a prayer.

  • paultaylor1

    Praying for the victims, now, that Mr. Paterno had little apparent empathy for while they were being molested, is a particularly useless and tasteless thing for him to do.

    And while I believe praying is something of a cheap way to act out your remorse, as in this case, Mr. Paterno, if he really believes in prayer–if he really believes it works for the unfortunate ones–should be praying for himself. It’s too late for him to “save” those whom he might have saved.

  • brian_fellow

    Yea, I guess saying a prayer a decade after it happened is better than actually doing something about it when it actually happened.

    Nice save Joe, I’m sure that will smooth things out.

  • Casey1

    Oh the hypocrisy! I bet the catholic bishops prayed for their victims too. These people are vile. Praying for their victims? Really?

    Yet another reason that religion is the downfall of humanity.