By Neil Rudel
It's been five weeks since the biggest local story of our lifetime broke - the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office charging former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky with sexually abusing 10 boys, which triggered the dismissal of coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier - and there's no signs of it slowing down.
The story, and all of its fallout, has led the local and sometimes the network newscasts for a month straight.
Sandusky's preliminary hearing will take place at Centre County Court in Bellefonte on Tuesday and while the biggest bombs have dropped - namely the shocking charges, followed by Paterno's sad ouster for, by his own admission and apparently the Board of Trustees' estimation, not taking a more active role - be prepared for more stomach-turning allegations.
Many of the victims are expected to testify while Sandusky's attorney, publicity hound Joe Amendola, attempts to pick them apart.
On top of the Sandusky allegations, the perceived coverup by Penn State, leading to perjury charges against Vice President Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, has added another troubling layer.
Moreover, Sandusky's pet charity, The Second Mile, faces lawsuits and ultimate closure for not being more proactive after allegedly being told of Sandusky's inappropriate behavior beginning in 2002.
(That the top two executives of the battled organization were married and making a combined $200,000 annually is also beyond offensive.)
Opinion pages of statewide newspapers have been filled with letters and flooded our office with email and voice-mail messages. Typically, we respond to most, excluding personal attacks, but the sheer volume in this case has made that impossible.
We've tried to give priority to concise letters, written by local writers, ahead of 1,500-word blasts from all over the country.
It won't be long until the Associated Press releases its top stories of the year. The guess here is it will be the No. 1 news story of the year, statewide and nationally.
The upside of the scandal is it's raised needed awareness on child abuse, and it's empowered victims to come forward.
That happened around the country, including at Syracuse University, where a long-tenured assistant basketball coach, Bernie Fine, has been fired for similar allegations and a long-tenured head coach, Jim Boeheim, has not been despite ridiculous comments attacking victims; he later apologized.
ESPN has come under fire, justifiably, for not turning a potentially incriminating tape over to Syracuse police after the network apparently couldn't advance the story.
The past month has been draining for virtually everyone who has covered it, but important information comes out daily.
Readers may say they're sick of the story, and that's understandable. I'm not sick of it as much as I'm sick about it.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.