The Borough Council on Monday approved a resolution congratulating Penn State’s football team on its winning season, but not without debate on whether to include in the document statements related to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
In the end, the resolution — proposed by council President Don Hahn — passed 5-2, with council members Cathy Dauler and Ron Filippelli opposing.
One of Filippelli’s concerns was resolved with a vote to strike one paragraph from the document, which said the team “labored under the additional stigma of a handful of former university officials who failed to bring the aforesaid former assistant coach to justice despite allegedly knowing about such misdeeds, for which they are currently facing trial.”
The paragraph above that, left in the final document, states that the football team dealt with the stigma of the coach’s “inhumane crimes against children,” though nowhere is Sandusky named.
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“There have been no trials, these people are innocent, and I don’t think we should take a public action, an official action, which besmirches their names even further until there is some resolution on the matter,” Filippelli said about the paragraph addressing university officials.
That paragraph was the only one the council struck before passing the resolution, though Dauler proposed eliminating most of the document, and simply congratulating the team on its 8-4 season.
“I think that time has passed,” she said. “People have, in many ways, moved on. I don’t think that this is an appropriate way for us to go over details that we are all very familiar with.”
Councilman Peter Morris said it would be “useless” to pass the resolution without admitting the scandal occurred, asking if the council would pass resolutions every year for athletic teams with winning records.
Dauler responded that she’s also concerned with the number of resolutions the council has passed this year.
“We may need to consider scaling back some of that effort and focus more on policy and actually taking votes,” she said.
Hahn defended his resolution, saying part of the point is to recognize “the adversity the football team has had to labor against” and that the team has been important in the community effort to move on.
“Part of the accomplishments is that they showed so much character throughout so much of this adversity,” he said. “I feel a lot more congratulatory toward the football team in this 8 and 4 season and think they deserve a lot of credit.”