How would I react knowing that my husband raped children?
Or worse yet, if I had heard a child in the basement screaming for help, which Victim 9 testified he did and which Dottie rebutted. Would I keep my mouth shut and put up a united front? Could I possibly stay?
Dottie, the one her family called "Sarge" because of her strict child-rearing, had to have known, didn't she?
If prosecutors knew the answer to that question, they'd probably have another case to try.
Truth is, nobody knows. But it sure sounded like the adopted mother of five boys and a girl was convinced of her husband's innocence in December, when she released a statement that directly addressed the basement torture-chamber scene.
"I have been shocked and dismayed by the allegations made against Jerry, particularly the most recent one that a young man has said he was kept in our basement during visits and screamed for help as Jerry assaulted him while I was in our home and didn't respond to his cries for help. . . . Our children, our extended family and friends know how much Jerry and I love kids and have always tried to help and care for them. We would never do anything to hurt them. I am so sad anyone would make such a terrible accusation, which is absolutely untrue. . . ."
The 69-year-old churchgoing grandmother of 12 reiterated her belief on the witness stand, telling prosecutors that, no, she didn't hear screaming in the basement, and, yes, her hearing is fine, and, no, she didn't walk in on Sandusky and a young boy having oral sex in a hotel room during a trip to the Alamo Bowl. Some of the boys were "clingy," she testified. Others were "charming," "demanding," and "conniving." As if they were the manipulative ones.
Why would former Penn State coach Mike McQueary lie about seeing Sandusky rape a boy in the Penn State shower?
"I, I don't know why," Dottie replied.
I wonder if she believes her son, who dropped a bombshell during jury deliberations with a claim that he, too, had been molested by Sandusky.
I was all set to write how Dottie Sandusky's silence had aided and abetted her husband's criminal acts, how she's just as guilty as he is.
That was, until I spoke to Martin A. Finkel, medical director of the Child Abuse Research, Education, and Services Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Don't be so quick to judge, Finkel warned. Because not only were the children, their parents, and the entire Penn State community duped by Jerry Sandusky, but Dottie probably was, too.
Finkel explained that in his experience treating families, even the most loyal spouses reported abuse in almost every case if they saw it for themselves.
Finkel said it is not unreasonable to believe that Dottie Sandusky never witnessed her husband's behavior. And even if she saw disturbing clues or patterns that would raise concern, "she isn't putting those pieces together or emotionally she isn't capable of seeing what everybody else sees."
"I can imagine her world is a shambles," Finkel said. "A lot of people were suckered by this guy. He creates this caring environment for kids, and from the outside, he looks like this terrific guy. . . . They were all betrayed."
As for Dottie, "I'm sure she had an explanation for things," the doctor said. "He shaped her reality."
Human behavior being so unexplainable at times, I don't know what to believe.
Be that as it may, Dottie Sandusky's cold reality now - whether she's a victim or accomplice - is that she's the wife of a child sex abuser soon likely to be an inmate for the rest of his life.
One of the Sanduskys' State College neighbors pretty much summed up the unsettling ambivalence that I'm feeling.
"I want to be there for her," said the neighbor, as quoted by my colleagues. "But I don't want to be there for her if she knew."
Contact Annette John-Hall at 215-854-4986 or Ajohnhall@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Annettejh.
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