The image of Jerry Sandusky has been replaced on a renowned bookstore mural
The artist put a picture of an advocate for sexual abuse victims in place of Sandusky's
The university says the student section of Beaver Stadium is sold out for football season
Sandusky sentence could come just as the first post-Paterno football season gets under way
The image of Jerry Sandusky, once emblazoned across a renowned bookstore mural near the Penn State campus, has been replaced – a move that the artist says he’d been waiting to make until the end of a child sexual abuse trial that’s still fresh in the minds of many.
“I just couldn’t have it up there,” said Michael Pilato, who replaced Sandusky’s picture with that of Dora McQuaid, a Penn State graduate, poet and advocate for sexual abuse victims.
“It’s Happy Valley, but there’s definitely a cloud over this town these days,” Pilato said Tuesday, having painted two red handprints beside McQuaid’s image on Sunday.
A blue ribbon was added to the rendering a day later, two months ahead of the fall school semester and just as the drumbeat for Nittany Lions football begins.
The university announced Friday that it had already sold out the student section of Beaver Stadium, with students purchasing more than 21,000 season football tickets.
The team’s home opener against Ohio is scheduled for September 1, leaving the program with the likely distraction of a Sandusky sentence just as the first post-Paterno season gets under way.
Following Friday’s verdict, Judge John Cleland ordered the former defensive coordinator to a county jail to await sentencing for about 90 days. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts related to child sex abuse. He continues to maintain his innocence.
But as Penn State grapples with the trial’s aftermath, it still faces the related prosecution of two former university officials: Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley.
“Until the Schultz and Curley part gets taken care of, it won’t be over,” said Michael Rowe, a 27-year-old Penn State alumnus. “It’s a huge scar.”
Court proceedings involving the two ex-administrators are expected to begin in mid-July, according to Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office.
Last year, the scandal led to the November firing of iconic head coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier and brought charges against Schultz and Curley for perjury and failing to report the abuse.
Paterno – who died on January 22 after a storied career that brought Penn State football to national prominence – reported to his superiors a child sex abuse incident in a university shower that involved Sandusky, but did not inform police.
“We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno,” the board of trustees said in a report that explained his firing.
That decision prompted rioting by Penn State students, overturning a news van and clashing with police, who used tear gas to break up throngs of angry protesters.
Months later, the loss of Paterno – often referred to as “JoPa” – still resonated with students when asked Tuesday about the lingering effects of the scandal.
“JoPa was kind of an idol for everyone,” said Seth Cornwall, 19, a Penn State sophomore. “Without him there, people are going to feel differently” about the program.
“I think the community is just trying to move on now,” he added.
Pilato, the muralist, recalled a conversation he had with Paterno shortly before his death. Pilato said the former head coach told him that “if he knew what he knew now, he would have done things differently.”
“I think the one positive out of all this is that if anything like this ever happens again, people will go directly to the police,” Pilato said.
The Pennsylvania muralist added that he’d received dozens of e-mails from survivors of sexual abuse, asking him to paint over Sandusky’s picture on his mural. The image of the former assistant coach had been erased from the rendering in November, but was only replaced with McQuaid’s picture on Sunday.
Those e-mails “really made me think about the young people looking at the mural, and the young men” who had accused him of abuse, he said.
Following Sandusky’s November indictment, Penn State says it has since required all university employees to complete training on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse, and has revised its policy on the oversight of minors on campus.
“The University now requires two or more authorized adults must be present during activities where minors are present,” said school spokesman David La Torre in a written statement.
The board of trustees also commissioned an independent investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh to investigate “what failures occurred and what changes we must make to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” the statement said.
Freeh’s group has since interviewed more than 400 university employees.
Meanwhile, Matt Sandusky – one of Jerry Sandusky’s six adopted children – said through his attorney that he was also sexually abused by his adoptive father, and that he had been prepared to testify against him. The announcement could ultimately bring additional charges against the former coach.
Addressing reporters Friday night, Jerry Sandusky’s attorney said the defense had learned from prosecutors that the younger Sandusky – who sat with his family on the first day of the trial – could have testified as a rebuttal witness if his adoptive father had taken the stand.
Attorney Joe Amendola said his client, who denied sexually abusing Matt, “still wanted to testify,” but reluctantly agreed not to for fear that his son’s testimony “would destroy any chance of an acquittal.”