Was Joe Paterno a man of honor?

I’ve never been a fan or a critic of Joe Paterno, but the Freeh report about Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation paints a bad picture of JoPa.

In 1998, there was a police investigation into alleged child molestation by Sandusky. The state attorney declined to press charges. I can’t fault Paterno at that time. In 2001, however, a coach told Paterno that he saw Sandusky raping a child. First of all, the coach screwed up for not stopping Sandusky in the act, but Paterno screwed up for not stopping Sandusky then. This is inexcusable.

The conclusions of the Freeh report are damning:

Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh wrote in his summary of his report. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.

A lot of people thought that Paterno was a good guy. He might have been, most of the time. But in one of the more difficult circumstances he did nothing and let an evil man abuse children. That will be Paterno’s lasting legacy.