ONTD Political

LaVar Arrington: I wish I’d paid more attention to one young man’s pain

3:44 pm - 06/12/2012
It’s hard to believe I could feel any worse about the horrific situation at my alma mater, Penn State, and the allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. But when the trial opened yesterday, to my dismay, matters became even more personal.

One witness, identified as Victim #4 by the grand jury, mentioned me multiple times. He spoke of wearing my jersey and having his photo taken with me. It again brought to mind his name, which originally had come to me when news of this scandal first broke.

Everything that has happened has aged me a few years, as I’m sure it has many others. But now my sadness and disappointment are growing as I realize that I knew this young man fairly well but didn’t grasp the full extent of what he was going through.

He’s 28 now, but I can recall seeing him around all the time when he was a kid, and I built a relationship with him. I always enjoyed interacting with kids. As time went on, I knew he looked up to me and was a big fan, and I made a point of stopping to talk with him. I’d ask him the usual questions: ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s school?’ He always seemed mad or kind of distant. I remember distinctly asking him: “Why are you always walking around all mad, like a tough guy?”

My preconceived notion was that he was part of Sandusky’s Second Mile foundation, so he must live in a troubled home, and I chalked it up to that. I would just tell him to smile every once in a while or laugh, that it would make him feel better. I guess with everything that I had going on, it certainly wasn’t a priority for me to try to figure him out. I saw him at the 1999 Alamo Bowl game and shared a couple laughs. I left school for the draft and that was that.

I can’t believe after all these years I’d feel so bad about a kid that I hadn’t thought about since I left school. But of course I do.

As the son of a school teacher I grew up around a woman who always protected and cared for her students as best she could. This was a natural part of my DNA, so much so that I majored in the same field. I wanted to be a child counselor.

So it’s mind-blowing to realize that a kid I took an active interest in during my time at school was suffering right in front of me and I had no idea that the pain allegedly came from someone in my own football program.

20-20 hindsight brings so much more clarity. But at the time I thought we were his place of refuge from what he was going through at home or in school. As much as I saw and talked with him, I felt, in my own way, I was making a difference in his life.

I hate everything that has happened, and now I must admit I feel even worse, knowing what allegedly was happening so close to me, and that I was unaware.

As a parent, I pray I can come to some peace about this and prepare my family for living in a world like this. I will never just wonder why a child is mad. I will never just assume ever again. I will always ask, and let them know that it’s okay to tell the truth about why they are upset.

My anguish and disappointment doesn’t compare to that of the victims. All I can do is hope that Victim #4 finds this entry and can see that I’m offering my sincerest apologies. I am so sorry this happened.


Mods, I noticed when tagging this that we have a pedobear tag but no pedophilia tag. Is it possible to get a pedophilia tag?
queenbathory 13th-Jun-2012 04:06 am (UTC)
i hope so too
rainbowxgeek 13th-Jun-2012 12:05 am (UTC)
I feel bad for this guy. His assumption that the kid was upset becuse of his home life, while ultimately incorrect, was still reasonable. And he DID ask him why he was upset.

The only perfect perspective is hindsight. I'm glad he's making it a point to learn from the past, but I hope he doesn't beat himself up over it.
schmanda 13th-Jun-2012 12:37 am (UTC)
And he DID ask him why he was upset. ... I hope he doesn't beat himself up over it.
Same. Speaking from experience, it's particularly gutting to learn something had been happening right under your nose, and you maybe didn't have a gut feeling at the time, but you knew something was "off" and even commented on it. I wasn't the one to do anything wrong (except, of course, to not pry harder), but I don't know that I'll ever not feel ashamed over my inaction.
baked_goldfish 13th-Jun-2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
His assumption that the kid was upset becuse of his home life, while ultimately incorrect, was still reasonable. And he DID ask him why he was upset.

One thing that strikes me is that Arrington is only in his early 30s, so when all this was happening he must have been around 18 or 19 years old. Which means that as a teenager himself who had no knowledge of the abuse he was already more worried about this guy's life than the adults who actually knew what was going on. I think that says a lot about just how fucked up PSU leadership was/is right there.
elasg 13th-Jun-2012 02:06 am (UTC)
I don't even know what to say to this, except I'm glad this person has found the courage to tell his story and that it will help put this monster away. I hope he sees your post too.

I know children who were in Second Mile too. I feel stupid for never even thinking something like this could happen here, to them.
tinylegacies 13th-Jun-2012 11:30 am (UTC)
once I realized that I misread the subject line and stopped trying to figure out what LeVar Burton had to do with the Penn State scandal... this was a good article.
omimouse 13th-Jun-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
. . . and I didn't realize what this was before I was reading it and then it was too late.

Dude, you didn't do anything wrong. The guy who walked into the showers and then *left* that kid there, *he* did something wrong. Sandusky did something wrong; everybody that heard complaints and didn't act did something wrong.

And of course, even if you saw this, you'd be about as likely to believe you hadn't failed a child who relied on you as I was and still am

kira_snugz 14th-Jun-2012 11:10 pm (UTC)
good on this guy. i can see how hard this would be for people who were involved around what was happening but had no clue. this guy asked. so many people didn't even do that. i hope he can come to peace with his feeling of guilt and that he didn't do enough. i hope he can someday understand why victim 4 didn't confide in him. i hope his plan of never wondering, never assuming, and always asking spreads
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