College football fans everywhere were surprised to learn Saturday that a high-level coaching assistant at Penn State University had been charged with molesting children for more than 15 years.
This is, after all, Penn State, a school with a spotless record of playing by NCAA rules while winning championships and grooming players for the NFL.
But even more shocking was that several administration officials covered up eyewitness accounts of the abuse and failed to notify law enforcement officials as required under Pennsylvania law.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who retired after a 32-year career at PSU in 1999, was recently indicted for abusing at least eight boys through a sports camp charity he ran for underprivileged boys.
The grand jury heard graphic testimony from seven of the eight boys who were victimized at between 11 and 13 years of age.
The boys were participating in Sandusky's The Second Mile charity, a foundation he started in 1977 to help boys from at-risk backgrounds.
In classic molester fashion, the older man supplied everything from free athletic equipment to marijuana to gain power over the impressionable boys.
Although he retired in 1999, Sandusky continued to use the football team's facilities for another 10 years for his charity work.
Twice over those years, witnesses reported to university officials they had seen Sandusky having oral sex with the boys.
In 2000, a janitor at the school reported he had seen Sandusky having sex with a boy.
Then, in 2002, a graduate student and his father reported seeing inappropriate behavior between Sandusky and a boy in a shower.
They reported the incident to Coach Joe Paterno who reportedly told Athletic Director Tim Curley.
Curley and the university's business manager, who oversees the campus police force, talked to the father and son, but not to police.
Curley and the business manager, Gary Schultz, did nothing. They didn't even try to locate the boy to get his side of the story.
While all of the facts are not yet in, it certainly appears as if there was a conspiracy of silence which protected the image of the football team but allowed Sandusky to continuing abusing boys in his program.
At the very least, it seems as if Paterno and the athletic director fall under the state's duty to inform law. It requires doctors, nurses, school teachers and coaches to report all suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement officials.
These men are, in effect, guilty of pulling the window shade down, allowing an abuser to continue harming children.
But this is how abusers manage to operate for years without detection. Family members, friends, relatives and co-workers fail to do the right thing.
If you suspect abuse, any abuse, call police as soon as possible.
Penn State could have exposed this scandal and ended this man's crimes a decade ago.
That university officials did not act is shameful.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.