Monday, June 18, 2012

The Sandusky Case: The Stomach Factor

by Meg Curtis

Readers attempting to track the Sandusky child abuse case quickly confront the stomach factor. How much information can a civilized adult consume before the guts rebel? The symptoms of this crisis take these forms: holding one's breath, clasping a hand over the mouth, and closing the eyes. 

Luckily, at least two approaches to this material emerge for readers' consideration. One comes courtesy of Diane Dimond in the Daily Beast with "Jerry Sandusky Trial, Day Four: Was Mrs. Sandusky Home?" (published on June 14, 2012). A second comes courtesy of Sara Ganim, whose reports of shower savagery in the Sandusky trial include this title from The Patriot-News and PennLive: "Accuser testifies he denied abuse even though many suspected it was happening" (published on June 11, 2012). 

Dimond's work includes what one can only hope are the worst of the jaw-dropping details. She specifically parallels testimony from two witnesses concerning Sandusky's shower activities. Readers who want to know exactly what this ex-coach was doing with soap, water, and boys in the air can find it there. Readers who don't want to be so enlightened can avoid it by seeking other versions of the same testimony. 

Ganim's work emphasizes patterns, contradictions, and shifting testimony by alleged victims. Here she summarizes what Dimond delivers in detail: "He [Victim 4] got a bit angry on the stand while explaining two times that Sandusky tried a specific sex act on him in the shower, and he squirmed with 'all his might' to get away." Notice that Ganim focuses on the testimony, rather than body parts, while remaining accurate. 

Thus, as much as Americans may complain about the quality of contemporary journalism, choices remain intact, and, in the Sandusky case, choices may simply be needed. No readers should have to choose between losing track of current events and losing their minds. Enough of that has been done already, and an entire country cannot comprehend how so few passed the Stomach Test in Happy Valley. 

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