News & Politics

How Could You See a Child Being Sexually Abused and Not Intervene?

Penn State's assistant coach allegedly saw a boy's rape but didn't intervene. An expert explains why.

This story was originally published atSalon.

 It’s a question many are asking as more details emerge from the Penn State scandal: How could you see a child being sexually abused and not intervene?

As a 28-year-old grad student, assistant coach Mike McQueary, now on administrative leave, claims he witnessed Jerry Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in the locker room showers. McQueary immediately called his own father to tell him what he’d seen, according to the grand jury report, but waited until the next morning to notify coach Joe Paterno. Even given the powerful institutional hierarchy within the school’s football program, which some have gone so far as to compare to the Catholic Church, most find it difficult to imagine standing by as a pre-pubescent boy is allegedly sodomized by a middle-aged man — no matter who that man is.

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