As if the students who tore up the Penn State campus Wednesday night in tragically misguided support of Joe Paterno didn’t do enough to hurt the university’s image, now a former Nittany Lion player wants to organize “support” for … Jerry Sandusky.
Sam Stellatella, a Penn State lineman from the late 1950s, sent Sandusky a check for $100. “I told him he’s going to need a million dollars to defend himself,” the 73-year-old Stellatella told Dan Gelston of the Associated Press. “He called me back and said, `What am I going to do with this money?’ I said, ‘Use it for your lawyer because you’re going to need it.'” Stellatella has also written personal letters to the 1959 Liberty Bowl team asking for donations, explaining, “Here’s the thing, these are horrendous charges against him. But he’s still entitled to his day in court.”
Sam, here’s the thing: Whatever Jerry Sandusky is entitled to, if his case goes to trial, he’s dead, and he will drag Penn State to hell with him. Leaving aside the issue of what decent lawyer is going to be seen in public defending Sandusky, can anyone even imagine what the circus will be like if this trial were to hit cable TV? Can anyone imagine a worse nightmare for Penn State — which will be soon dealing with its own horrendous legal problems?
And how exactly will those problems manifest themselves for the university? Some talk show hosts appearing on CNN this week said that this is likely to cost Penn State at least $100 million before it’s over. From where, exactly, is that figure coming from? As of Friday morning, authorities had identified eight victims. Does anyone think there won’t be more — and probably a great many more, considering that 34 years ago Sandusky founded the Second Mile, a foundation for orphans and “wayward” (as they were called by the organization) children.
Surely no one at Penn State is contemplating any kind of legal defense that involves a trial; such a public spectacle with the horrific revelations that are bound to come out of it could only make things far worse than they already are. Not to mention that the Department of Education — you know them, one of those agencies that Rick Perry wants to abolish — is launching its own investigation. Does anyone connected with Penn State want television cameras on all this?
If not, there’s only one alternative, and that’s settling out of court with all the victims. The reality is that right now, no one can possibly calculate the cost that Penn State will incur. And this doesn’t even take into account the lost revenue from prospective students who choose to go elsewhere.
Here’s some advice for old Penn State players who want to give Jerry Sandusky a show of support: Keep your money and advise Sandusky to plead guilty on the basis on insanity, throw himself on the mercy of the court, and pray that it shows some. And save your money, or at least don’t send it to Sandusky. Send it to one of the funds to help the victims.