Seek Justice, Not Vengeance – A Plea to All Involved in the Penn State Scandal
The following is a guest contribution from Heather Brittany (@HeatherBrit). Heather is currently a law student at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and Sports Chair of its Entertainment & Sports Law Society. She is also an assistant at Collegiate Sports Advisors.
After reading the Grand Jury Report about the disgusting, terrible and horrifying allegations against Jerry Sandusky, I along with the majority of the country wanted Sandusky immediately stoned to death. I was, and am, completely horrified with everything that occurred and for the length of time that he continued to prowl. Furthermore, the idea that over a dozen people had the ability to stop him, but didn’t, infuriates me even more. I want him to rot behind prison bars and I want every single person who was involved in the cover-up to be exposed.
I want every person who knows anything about Sandusky or was personally assaulted by Sandusky to know that it is up to them to put this man away forever. I also want them to understand strength in numbers, and to feel safe and comfortable, knowing that they are not alone. It is now the world against Sandusky, and every victim must understand that they are not to be ashamed or embarrassed about what happened. This was not their fault. A disgusting, despicable and vile creature did all this.
All of that being said, there is one extremely important thing that people must remember: seek justice, not vengeance.
Something as terrible as children being sexually abused instills an immediate anger and vengeance within us. It makes us all want to chase after the perpetrator with fire, ready to burn him (and everything that he owns / anyone else who was involved) to the ground. Unfortunately, it is through this passion that we tend to lose sight of reality. The reality I am speaking of is our criminal justice system.
About 25 years ago, a mother came forward in Manhattan Beach, California saying that members of the McMartin family, who ran the local preschool, had sexually abused her son. As soon as members of the community found out, everyone became enraged. Hundreds of children and family members came forward with terrible stories of abuse (along with other allegations). This also happened to be during the time that the nation was going through a sort of moral panic with satanic rituals (some have called it the modern day Salem Witch Trials). Furthermore, the district attorney who tried the case was overzealous and, although likely with good intentions, made many unethical decisions.
The McMartins were charged with 321 counts of child abuse involving 48 children. The trial lasted for six years and, as of 1990, was the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. At the end of it, no convictions were obtained and all charges were dropped in 1990. If you spend any time researching the case and the trial, the court ruled the correct way – legally. The evidence was clearly coached, there were blatant lies and contradicting stories from the prosecutions’ own witnesses.
While the case came out legally correct, it unfortunately put two people, who deserved to rot in prison, back on the streets. As someone who was raised just blocks from the McMartin preschool, I can tell you that those two deserved to never see the light of day ever again. I was fortunate to have not attended that school, but I cannot say the same for many of the children that I grew up with. Unfortunately, because anger, disgust and vengeance took over the community, two people whom sexually molested young and defenseless children got off scot-free. Justice was not served.
Do not let this happen with Sandusky. Please, be honest, come forward with what you know and everything that you know – if you are not sure, say that. More evidence is not necessarily good evidence. The only “good evidence” is that which is truthful. We all want to see this man put away. The truth will come through and justice will be served as long as everyone is not overcome with a desire for vengeance. So please, on behalf of a community who was nearly destroyed by a similar scandal, I beg of you to seek justice and not vengeance.