The Jerry Sandusky story has been out there for months, in all its horrifying detail. But somehow those details — the guilty verdicts on 45 counts, the 10 victims, the Sandusky son ready to testify, the basement attacks, the showers, the young men from broken homes lured with offers of football tickets — make it all the more chilling.

It is difficult to wrap your mind around the details, the charity that was a hunting ground for Sandusky as he sought out the victims that he could manipulate and the culture of silence that was ready to sacrifice children to protect a big-time football program and a legendary Coach.

It is a scandal that mirrors the ones that have rocked the Catholic Church. In one, children’s needs and safety were ignored because of the overriding concern for the image of the church. In the other, children’s needs and safety were ignored to protect and maintain the image of a college football program.

Could something like this be playing out somewhere else? Undoubtedly it could. Perhaps the image of Jerry Sandusky in handcuffs, blinking at the lights of cameras, will send a message that abusers and the institutions that protect them can be dragged from their world of secret horror into the glare of the spotlight.

Esme Murphy