The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

July 3, 2012

Boards are paying for their inattention

Four victims of Jerry Sandusky have sued to stop the Second Mile charity from transferring its assets to a Texas-based charity that has an office in Altoona. Officials at the Second Mile said they want to transfer the money so it can be used to help children and the Second Mile brand name is irreparably harmed by the arrest and conviction of Sandusky, the charity's founder.

This jockeying strikes at the matter of the implementation of justice even as Sandusky prepares to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Those organizations and institutions that helped him locate and victimize young boys could be on the hook for whatever penalties come from the raft of civil lawsuits on the horizon.

Board members who were appointed to provide oversight at the Second Mile or elected or appointed to serve on the Penn State board of trustees share the blame for missing signals. Penn State administrators decided to conceal allegations about Sandusky. Penn State President Graham Spanier was involved in that decision, and it is increasingly apparent that Joe Paterno knew more than he ever admitted publicly. Board members at the Second Mile and Penn State were reportedly unaware of the allegations.

It was their job to know.

Those serving on nonprofit and appointed public boards are, in many cases, led by paid administrators with the expertise and time to become directly involved in the organization's mission.

One of the pivotal questions hovering in the aftermath of Sandusky's conviction is how seriously Penn State will be burned by the board's failure to expect the university administration to report unprecedented misconduct within and around the football program.

The Second Mile's board, including state Sen. Jake Corman, failed when it provided legitimacy to Sandusky's efforts. They are failing again by trying to insulate the Second Mile's holdings from efforts to hold the charity accountable for providing the means for a predator to gain access to and trust from young boys. Sandusky will pay for his crimes.

The mistakes at Penn State and the Second Mile were horrific, and they will likely be costly.

The failures at Penn State and the Second Mile should provide the impetus for a transformation in the type and value of oversight provided by appointed boards in the nonprofit and public sectors.

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