Child Advocate: Penn St. Scandal Can Be “National Teaching Moment”
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MIAMI (CBS4) – South Florida resident Lauren Book, who knows first-hand of child sex abuse was talking about the scandal rocking Penn State University and its now fired legendary head coach Joe Paterno.
“If that was JoePa’s grandson, do you think it would have been handled the same way? I do not.”
As a child, Lauren was sexually abused by her family’s nanny who is now in prison. Lauren now directs her foundation, “Lauren’s Kids,” which strives to raise awareness of child sex abuse. She walked the length of the state – from Key West to Tallahassee – to promote the cause.
“One of three girls and one of five boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years old,” Book told CBS4’s Gary Nelson. “Only a tiny fraction of those cases will be reported. Who wouldn’t pick up the phone and call the police if they see a bank being robbed, but just look at the people who see a child being abused and look the other way.”
In the Penn State case, former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly sexually abused boys for years and, while school officials were aware of it, no one called authorities.
Sandusky is charged with more than forty felony counts of child sex abuse and two other school officials are charged with perjury and failing to report the alleged abuses.
Book said she doesn’t believe the net has been cast broadly enough in the Penn State scandal.
“This was a criminal conspiracy to cover up outrageous acts of child sex abuse,” Book said.
Assistant Coach Mike McQueary who told a grand jury he witnessed a boy being sexually assaulted in a school shower by Sandusky, told Paterno about it, but did nothing more. McQueary has not been charged.
“He should have made a phone call. He should have called the police when he realized nothing was being done,” Book said. She said Paterno also should have pressed to have the Sandusky matter formally investigated and that Paterno, while being fired, has not been held adequately accountable.
Book said she was saddened to see Penn State students all but riot when Paterno was fired, saying the students just don’t “get it.”
“This isn’t about Joe Paterno, this isn’t about football. This is about a ten year-old, an eight year-old, who were sodomized over and over. This is about countless other victims that we haven’t heard about, because they decided to criminally cover up what this man was doing.”
Book said it sometimes takes a larger than life figure – like a Joe Paterno – to deliver a wake-up call.
“We need to look at the issue of child sexual assault, and use this as a national, teachable moment to look at child sexual assault,” she said.