Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bernie Fine Case Reveals Double Standards

As soon as the grand jury released its report about alleged pedophile Jerry Sandusky, ESPN and other media outlets essentially formed a lynch mob demanding Joe Paterno's head, a demand that the Penn State Board of Trustees eagerly met; while the media applauded the Board of Trustees' action, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office was less than impressed: spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said, "We have a cooperating witness [Paterno], an individual who testified, provided truthful testimony but two others who were found by a grand jury to commit perjury whose legal expenses are being paid for university. One is on administrative leave. Very interesting development. It's certainly curious and [has] not been explained yet. Speaking as a prosecuting agency, we have a cooperating witness who has not been charged, while two individuals accused of committing crimes continue to be affiliated."

Sandusky had not been on Coach Paterno's staff for more than a decade by the time the grand jury report came out--but Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine was literally Jim Boeheim's right hand man for the past 36 years, during which time Fine allegedly abused at least three children, including two Syracuse ball boys. While Paterno expressed sympathy for Sandusky's alleged victims and remorse that he had not been able to do more--even though the grand jury found that Paterno had not committed any wrongdoing--Boeheim called Fine's accusers money-hungry liars while sanctimoniously declaring, "I'm not Joe Paterno. Somebody didn't come and tell me Bernie Fine did something and I'm hiding it. I know nothing. If I saw some reason not to support Bernie, I would not support him. If somebody showed me a reason, proved that reason, I would not support him. But until then, I'll support him until the day I die." Boeheim certainly is "not Joe Paterno"--Paterno has a much better resume as an educator, philanthropist and coach than Boeheim does. There is also no indication that Paterno had direct knowledge of Sandusky's conduct, while at least one of Fine's accusers states that Boeheim saw him staying in Fine's hotel room on the road (it is unusual for ball boys to travel with a team, let alone stay in the same hotel room with an assistant coach).

After the evidence against Fine piled up--including a tape of Fine's wife admitting that she knew about Fine's conduct--Syracuse fired Fine on Sunday and Boeheim went into a full backpedal, apologizing for attacking the integrity of Fine's accusers and stating that victims of abuse should not hesitate to come forward. It is not yet clear exactly what Boeheim knew about Fine's alleged misconduct but Boeheim certainly was in a greater position to know about what Fine was doing--and had a greater responsibility to keep tabs on his right hand man--than Paterno was in position to know about the actions of someone who had not been on his staff for more than 10 years. I am not saying that Boeheim should be fired but at the very least he should be formally reprimanded for the irresponsible comments he made right after the Fine investigation became publicized; obviously, if any evidence comes to light that Boeheim in any way covered up for Fine then Boeheim should be fired (I have the same opinion about Paterno--the reason I object to his firing is that Paterno was fired without any evidence that he did anything wrong).

Meanwhile, the same ESPN that littered the airwaves with high-minded commentary about Paterno's supposed moral failings suppressed for nearly a decade the tape that Fine accuser Bobby Davis made of Fine's wife admitting knowledge of Fine's homosexual/pedophilic proclivities and activities. Why didn't ESPN turn that tape over to the authorities? How many children did Fine abuse after ESPN had reason to believe that he is a sexual predator? ESPN and other media outlets insisted that Paterno deserved to be immediately fired even though a grand jury found that he committed no wrongdoing and had no knowledge of Sandusky's conduct; applying that reasoning, how many ESPN executives and reporters should be immediately fired for not alerting the police about the Davis tape?

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