The Joe Pa Case: a Word of Caution




Not to be literal-minded or anything, but a paragraph contained in an otherwise gruesome NYTimes account of alleged serial child molestation by former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky goes this way:

"Sandusky was indicted last week by a grand jury and faces 40 criminal counts of serial assault ranging from statutory rape to inappropriate fondling. He has denied all charges. He was released on $100,000 bond and is to appear in court next month for a preliminary hearing."

Wait a minute here: "...indicted," not convicted? ..."denied all charges?" " appear in court next month for a preliminary hearing?" Er, what's that bit about Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

We all think we know what happened here, but, to say the least, there has been a rush to judgment. That's true even in Sandusky's case, not to mention that of Joe Pa and the other figures in this case, about whom thus far we have literally had nothing but the vaguest sort of hearsay.

OK, so let's suspend the Constitution for a moment of prolonged breast-beating and venting. We've still got that Alice in Wonderland trope: How does it go? Verdict first? Trial later?

Paterno's case has been even more extreme: Punishment first. Verdict later. And trial still later.

Folks, this ain't going right.

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