With new reports out this month about the cover-up at Penn State University over former coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of boys (including his own adopted son), it is clear that more people than Sandusky have been found guilty in the case.

While two other Penn State officials, athletic director Tim Curley and retired senior vice president Gary Schultz, are awaiting trial on charges of failing to report the abuse and lying to a grand jury about it, another prominent Penn Stater already has been placed in the dock and a judgment has been rendered.

Even though he’s dead.

Yes, former head football coach Joe Paterno, Penn State’s legendary “JoePa,” has had the many stellar accomplishments of his entire career negated by a lapse of judgment (if such a generous description is appropriate) about reporting allegations of abuse by Sandusky to authorities — as he was both legally and morally obligated to do.

People who are unfamiliar with Paterno’s reputation in Pennsylvania, and in the ranks of big-time college football generally, may not understand how he outshone not only his peers, but any other public figure of his time, certainly including mere governors, senators or congressmen.

His record as the nation’s most successful major college coach was complemented with a reputation for valuing his players’ academic and personal accomplishments more than their performance on the gridiron.

All that now is in the past, made irrelevant by revelations in his own words that proved beyond doubt that not only had he deceived investigators about his knowledge of Sandusky’s actions over a period of many years, but that he had been derelict in his duty to do his best to bring them to a halt.

Instead of protecting and supporting young people, in other words, he chose to assist their abuser, a long-time friend and co-worker.

Paterno was, in the words of former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired to investigate Penn State’s actions, “an integral part of this active decision to conceal” Sandusky’s pattern of abuse.

Paterno died of lung cancer in January at age 86, but what will live on in infamy is a record of handwritten notes and emails he composed that helped to create and defend the university’s decision not to report to child welfare authorities allegations about Sandusky made over a period of years.

Sandusky has been found guilty on 45 counts of child abuse, and likely will spend the rest of his life in jail.

But Paterno’s sentence, handed down in the higher court of public opinion, will last forever.

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