Column: Penn State case bad, but church sex abuse worse

USA Today

By DeWayne Wickham

I didn’t have much sympathy for people who complained about the punishment the NCAA doled out to Penn State, until I discovered how an even larger institution in the Keystone State has escaped punishment for shielding dozens of pedophiles in its midst.

In June, Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant football coach at Penn State, was found guilty of raping and sodomizing 10 young boys. Top university officials were told of Sandusky’s deviant behavior years earlier and did nothing to stop him. They, apparently, were more worried about the damage that exposing him would do to the school’s reputation than the harm he was doing to his victims.

For its inaction, Penn State on July 23 was fined $60 million, its football team was banned from post-season play for four years and the games it won from 1998 through 2011 — the span of time during which university officials were aware of Sandusky’s pedophilia and looked the other way — were wiped off the record books.

Another troubling case

The next day, an even more troubling case of child sex abuse — given that so many more predators were involved — played out in a Philadelphia courtroom without any hint that justice would reach beyond a low-level official of that city’s Catholic archdiocese.

Monsignor William Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in prison for covering up the actions of pedophile priests he was supposed to root out of the church. Instead, he sent them to unsuspecting parishes where other sexual assaults took place — an action his lawyers said was ordered by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who headed Philadelphia’s archdiocese from 1988 to 2003. He died in January.

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