I don't think I will ever forget the past 24 hours, and as I witnessed and experienced just about every emotion, I am still left with one question: What about the victims?
What were they thinking as their stories were discussed throughout the afternoon? What were they thinking when the coach they probably admired as kids was fired? And what did they think as the town they knew was overrun by a dangerous college crowd?
My heart broke for those victims as I started the day pouring over the horrific details in that 23-page grand jury report. I almost cried when I read the story of victim number 5. He was eight-years-old when then defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky allegedly invited him to a Penn State football game. The testimony says that the young boy was thrilled to attend. Imagine the excitement of that innocent child, a wide-eyed kid who can't believe this famous coach asked him to a football game. Imagine what he told his mom: "Mom I'm going to see Penn State, I might even meet a player!"
I have seen that look from my own sons when I tell them we are going to see a game. But for victim number 5, the memories don't involve a game, but this famous coach allegedly turning on him and trying to molest him in a shower. What about the victims?
Then I get off the plane and I find out Coach Paterno issued a statement saying he will resign after the season. Would that hold true? Did the victims think Joe Paterno should be fired?
We had many on-air discussions through the day about whether or not he should continue coaching. And I thought the night would end with no announcement on Joe Paterno. It was almost ten o'clock, and I was getting tired and I thought "maybe University President Graham Spanier gets fired and that's it."
But then my producer began seeing tweets warning everyone on campus not to overreact. And we knew they wouldn't need that warning if only Spanier were let go. Then we began to think that State College would go wild if Paterno was fired. Sure enough, word came that Paterno would no longer be Penn State's coach, effective immediately. And sure enough, this college town went wild. How are the victims reacting?
The victims were the last thing on students' minds as their anger boiled over. Students flocked to a building called Old Main and they chanted "Joe PA-ter-no" or "WE WANT JOE BACK!" I couldn't believe my eyes as student after student sprinted past me to join the thousands of others. They all yelled out "Beaver Avenue" and they ran past me again to get there to rally. At first I thought it was passionate but peaceful, but that crowd turned ugly quickly. My producer was almost hit with a rock, there were anti-media chants like "F*** the media!" And then a news van was flipped over and packs of the crowd were running in every direction. I wanted to scream out to these students: "What are you doing?" But I didn't feel safe enough to do that. Instead, I was just thankful that police in riot gear came to restore order.
What a 24 hours! But I am still asking myself about the victims in this story.