Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Residents dispute media portrayal of community as sympathetic to Jerry Sandusky

State College resident Becky Caplan said she keeps listening to national commentators make generalizations about local residents related to the Jerry Sandusky trial, and spoke for herself and her community.

On Wednesday, Caplan and friend Kathy Niles tried to claim two public tickets to get into court, but didn’t make it. Caplan said she keeps hearing commentators say that State College residents want Sandusky to go free.

“I don’t think we do,” she said. “I think Joyce Porter is a very, very small percentage.”

Porter, a longtime friend of the Sanduskys, testified for the defense this week.

Local residents, many with Penn State ties, have followed the case and continue to work through their feelings about it, and the university where some of the abuse is alleged to have happened.

Caplan, who received her master’s degree from Penn State, said she’s “one of the few residents” who isn’t a football fan, and believes the university’s top administrators — including Tim Cur-ley and Gary Schultz, facing charges in Dauphin County related to the scandal — could have stopped the alleged abuse.

“I’m so disappointed in the administration,” she said. “That’s almost bigger.”

Niles said she was both a football and a Sandusky fan in the 1980s, and her husband works for the university.

“This has been hugely hurtful to so many people,” she said. “We’re not talking dollars; we’re talking emotions.”

But, with a social work background, she said one good thing has come of the situation.

“I’m glad a light has been shone on the issue,” she said of child sexual abuse.

Desiree Valentine, a graduate student who lives in Boalsburg, agreed, saying the case hasn’t affected her, but that she realizes the broader impact related to sexual violence and child abuse.

“It’s a big problem,” she said.

Paul and Dana Kletchka live on Sandusky’s street and both have worked at Penn State for about a decade.

Dana said she’s trying to reserve judgment, but that it’s hard to think the place she “poured (her) life into” was involved.

“For me, it’s higher education,” she said. “People are learning, people are growing, people are thinking. To think that people knew about this is unthinkable.”

Paul Kletchka said he grew to love Penn State, but that it appears that the people in charge have no regard for him, his family, his neighbors and the children who attend nearby Lemont Elementary School.

“I think I’m over the hurt,” he said. “Now I’m just angry. And that doesn’t make going into work every day any easier.”

At first, Kletchka said, work was a refuge.

“When it looked like a cover-up, that refuge disappeared really quickly,” he said.

Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter

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