By Patricia L Johnson
There has always been a special place in my heart for Veterans, partly due to being brought up to believe how extraordinary the men and woman who fight for our country are, and partly due to interactions through the years with Veterans.
We live relatively close to a Veterans Affairs Medical Center and over the years I’ve met many who have sought treatment at this facility and you cannot help but laugh when they tell you stories of waiting in line for hours upon hours just to get a change of clothes, or a meal or any other number of necessities. If they were in the U.S. and had to wait for hours for the same services it would be on the front page of every newspaper, but because they’re off in some distant country that most of us couldn’t spell, much less find on a map, it’s chalked off as part of the ‘experience’ and the vets joke about it on a regular basis.
When they talk about the atrocities of war, the twinkling in their eyes disappears, the smile is gone and the sadness in their hearts is reflected in detail, on their faces and in the distant, weary look in their eyes.
In the fall of 2000, our victim, Jim Calhoun, was working as a janitor at Penn State University. Jim, while performing his job duties, witnessed Gerald Arthur (Jerry) Sandusky, the defensive coordinator of Penn State’s Division I collegiate football program, performing oral sex on a young boy in the showers of the Lasch Building. Note: Any person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Jim immediately went to other members of the janitorial staff and explained what he had witnessed.
Employee Ronald Petrosky was also working that evening and it was his job to clean the showers which were empty due to the fact the football players were at an away game. Petrosky could not see who was in the assistant coaches’ shower room, but he heard the sound of running water and could see two pairs of feet. Coach Sandusky and a young boy, between the ages of 11-13, eventually exited the shower with their hair wet. Petrosky then observed the coach holding hands with the boy as they were walking down the long hall leading out of Lasch Building.
As he was cleaning the shower that Sandusky and the boy had used, Jim Calhoun came up to Petrosky and was noticeably upset and crying. Jim, visibly shaking, told Petrosky he “fought in the [Korean] war….seen people with their guts blowed out, arms dismembered…I just witnessed something in there I’ll never forget.” Jim went on to explain to Petrosky that he saw Sandusky (at the time, he did not know the coach’s name) holding the boy up against the wall and licking on him.
There was only one employee working that evening who had any length of service at the college and that was Jim Calhoun’s immediate supervisor, Jay Witherite. All other employees were relatively new. Jim’s peers were eventually able to talk Jim into reporting the incident to Jay Witherite, but were afraid to accompany him, in support, for fear they would lose their own jobs.
Witherite observed that Jim was “very emotionally upset” and “distraught” to the point Witherite “was afraid the man was going to have a heart attack or something the way he was acting.” while he was explaining how he had observed Jerry Sandusky performing oral sex on the young boy [that same evening Sandusky was parked in his vehicle in the parking lot and Calhoun was able to point him out to Witherite].
Witherite attempted to calm Jim and went on to explain to him who he should contact to report the incident – if he chose to report it.
“If he chose to report it”?? – how about dialing 911!
No report was ever made by Jim Calhoun – We’ll rephrase that statement and say there is no report on file made by Jim Calhoun. We can’t confirm or deny whether he made a report by talking to Jim Calhoun because this poor man is considered ‘incompetent to testify’. He is currently suffering from dementia and living in a nursing home.
The identity of the young boy has never been determined.
How much of Jim Calhoun’s dementia can be attributed to the atrocity he witnessed back in the year 2000? How long can a fragile mind cope with the knowledge that a wrong has been committed by a person in power and know that nothing will be done to protect others from the same thing happening to them? From the few comments he made about his tour in Korea, it’s obvious that Jim Calhoun suffered some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He went to a foreign country to fight for freedom and 45 years later sees a child on U.S. soil being sexually abused by a powerful man. How many years of torment did Jim Calhoun go through before his mind finally snapped?
The attitude of Penn State towards the despicable acts performed on their campus is readily seen in their willingness to pay the legal fees of Athletic Director Timothy Mark Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Charles Schultz, who were both charged with perjury and failure to report. Schultz’s position includes oversight of Penn State University Police Department.
When this Veteran’s Day rolls around say a special prayer for Jim Calhoun, the one man that tried to come forward and fight for what’s right.
© 2011 Patricia L Johnson