Fallout from the case of Jerry Sandusky, the disgraced former Penn State defensive coordinator who stands accused of sexually abusing several boys he met through his charity, has extended to the upper reaches of Penn State University. Head football coach Joe Paterno and University President Graham Spanier's jobs were both casualties of their own inaction surrounding Sandusky's alleged crimes, and now, speculation is turning to Sandusky's wife Dottie.
Dottie and Jerry Sandusky were unable to have children of their own, and so adopted six children over the course of their marriage. After a grand jury report containing stomach-churning details of Jerry's alleged sexual abuse of children, his five adopted children and wife have stood steadfastly by his side. Dottie released her only public statement on December 8, urging the public to reserve judgment until her husband had a chance to prove his innocence. At his December 13 preliminary hearing, Dottie entered the courtroom on her husband's arm. She hasn't hired an attorney, because she doesn't believe she needs one.
According to Sandusky's indictment, his abuse of boys spanned at least from 1994 until 2008. Since much of it occurred in the family home, how did Dottie not know what was going on? One boy claims he screamed for help while Sandusky assaulted him, knowing that Dottie was upstairs, but received no response. Two of the accused claimed they were contacted by the Sanduskys after going to the police and urged to return to the house for a "reunion." A family friend says that Dottie expressed concern that Jerry's relationship with a few of the boys might raise some eyebrows, just because it could be perceived as odd by outsiders.
But this doesn't mean that Dottie knew anything, or was in any way complicit in her husband's misconduct.
People often don't want to believe that their spouse would even be capable of the unspeakable; Ruth Madoff, for example, claims she knew nothing of her husband's creative accountancy. The wife of Josef Fritzl didn't know that her husband was regularly raping their daughter in a secret basement chamber he constructed beneath their house in Austria. A reasonable person interested in mental self preservation wouldn't immediately conclude that several non sequiturs point to an inevitable "my spouse is secretly a monster" conclusion, no matter how many red flags were raised. Even in light of glaring evidence, spouses are willing to perform elaborate mental gymnastics to avoid the ugly truth, say experts interviewed by The Patriot-News. Further, abusers can be very manipulative, both to the abused and to the people from whom they wish to keep the abuse secret.
According to reports, Jerry and Dottie Sandusky may do a joint TV interview after the new year, in an attempt to clear Jerry's name and say their piece. Judging by how creepy and weird Jerry's last interview was, that may not be the best idea.