Deep breaths everyone. Let’s allow Joe Paterno a chance to have his story told. There is no rush to judge him, and a man like Paterno has certainly earned the right to the benefit of the doubt.
We shouldn’t give him a pass just because he has 409 football wins (the most of all time) and because has been an outstanding mentor to thousands of young men, a shining example to perhaps millions more. Not a pass. But certainly a hearing.
What did he really hear from his assistant was happening in that locker room? Something mildly suspicious, or something explicit and detailed? His future should hang on the answer to that question.
From a legal perspective he met his “legal obligation” by reporting something, we don’t know what exactly (because we don’t even know what he was told), to the Athletic Director. But if what he had heard, and then reported, was that something blatantly sexual was happening in that locker room, Paterno certainly had the “moral” obligation to report the incident to the police, especially after he saw that no action seemed to have been taken a few days after the event.
What if he heard that something suspicious was happening, such as “I saw Sandusky in the locker room and there was a young boy there, and it seemed strange to me and I’m uncomfortable with it”. Paterno may have replied, “Was he doing anything with the boy? Was anything explicit happening?”. If the answer was “No, it just looked strange to me”. This is entirely plausible, and in fact being a fan of Joe Paterno I believe some scenario like this is more likely. And if these were the circumstances, I could certainly understand the dilemma between reporting this to a superior versus calling the police, and I would then give Paterno a pass.
Joe Paterno is innocent until proven guilty. Let’s find out what exactly he was told, and what exactly he reported to the AD, before action is taken against him by Penn State University and before we rush to public judgement.