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A Penn State coach’s bad book title

A minor footnote in the child abuse horrorshow now claiming careers at Penn State: Coach Jerry Sandusky’s book. It was called “Touched.” Yes, really.

The book was published in 2000, years after the first alleged case of Sandusky sexually abusing boys. Sandusky was charged last week with assaulting boys who were supposed to be being assisted by The Second Mile, his charity, between 1994 and 2009.

The writing in the book is predictably awful, with rambling stories about family life, football, and running a small charity that will be of little interest to anyone but Sandusky fans. If there is such a thing.

Sandusky’s book includes passages like this (pages 210 and 211):

“I believe I live a good part of my life in a make-believe world. I enjoyed pretending as a kid, and I love doing the same as an adult with these kids. Pretending has always been a part of me. I’ve loved trying to do the right things to hopefully make a difference in kids’ lives and maybe make things better off for them. I am tough and competitive with the kids, but the one thing that has never been pretend or make-believe about me is my genuine love and care for the kids. I’ve always wanted to be accountable and trustworthy to them.”

The revolting grand jury report on Sandusky (which you can find here) also includes the word “touched” several times, in passages like this:

“Victim 3, now age 24, met Sandusky through the Second Mile in the summer of 2000, when he was between seventh and eighth grade… On two occasions Victim 3 recalls that Sandusky touched Victim 3’s genitals through the athletic shorts Victim 3 wore to bed. Victim 3 would roll over on his stomach to prevent Sandusky from touching his genitals.”

As for why he stayed so long at Penn State, Sandusky writes in “Touched” (page 181):

“The bottom line is, when you’re associated with a community, a university and an athletic program that exemplified class, it all adds up to a tremendous amount of reasons why it is so very difficult to leave that kind of situation.”

I realize Sandusky has yet to be found guilty, but so many eyewitnesses have come forward to accuse him of wrongdoing—at personal risk with little possibility of gain—that there’s virtually no doubt. As a Penn State alum, I feel deeply angry at this man. And I feel profound disappointment in the Penn State football culture that he found so “difficult to leave.”

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Cover via Google Books. Book excerpts found on Amazon.

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More: Deadspin spoke to Sandusky’s co-author, Kip Richeal.

Related post: One gutsy front page

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under News & Journalism


  1. Jeff McKown says:

    The more I ponder the details of the entire story of what happened at Penn State, the more it sickens me. If you consider even for a second what you would likely do if you stumbled upon a man sodomizing a ten year-old boy in a college shower (intervene? call campus security? call police?), then the reactions of ALL of those involved becomes even more baffling and disturbing.

  2. SadP says:

    “I believe I live a good part of my life in a make-believe world.”.

    Many sit dazed and confused as the rubble around PSU is raked over. So many ask why and seek answers by just re-iterating the behavior that Sandusky relied upon to hide behind. He was caught up in the Fantasy himself – he loved the make-believe.

    Social Psychologists are not surprised, and are aware of the patterns. PSU had a CULT operating at it’s heart – it brought in money and prestige.

    It would seem that someone made-believe to themselves that they were allowed to do anything. That they were empowered by their own fantastical view of themselves and all around them.

    They evens set up a charity and hid within it.

    Such Criminal Versatility is the trait of a Sociopath. The fantasy element also fits.

    Why do so many struggle to grasp the events?

    Because they are not people who live a good part of their life in a make-believe world, where they allow themselves to abuse kids sexually, and make-believe it’s normal.

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