Just announced: Al Pacino is slated to portray former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in an upcoming HBO movie produced and directed by Barry Levinson.

 “The official logline for the film reads: “After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Joe Paterno is embroiled in Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, challenging his legacy and forcing him to face questions of institutional failure on behalf of the victims.”

The involvement of both Al Pacino and Barry Levinson are good signs for the possibility of a movie that may help prevent child sexual abuse and support survivors of it. This entire unfolding at Penn State in regards to Jerry Sandusky has been stunning, and yet it has also offered the benefits of raising awareness, improving general knowledge of sexual predators of children, improving community response to such violence, increasing support of childhood sexual abuse survivors, especially boys and men, and has brought the pandemic of this violence into the public dialogue in unprecedented ways.

As those goals have been core to my activism efforts for over 20 years and are why I agreed to have my image replace Sandusky’s in the mural at Penn State following his 2012 conviction, I’m hopeful that the benefits of this movie in terms of those goals will outweigh the possible disadvantages. I remain hopeful that proactive change continues to be possible.

All peace to each one of you, especially the survivors among us.


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