Happy Valley

Happy Valley, a searching documentary about the child sex-abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University, concludes with a scene of Matt Sandusky, the grown adoptive son of convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky, constructing a basement rec room in his home as his own small children romp around nearby. Matt plays only a small part in the complex story, but his sad situation epitomizes a movie that looks past his father’s crimes and the cover-up by Penn State officials to ponder the culture that permitted them. In June 2012, as Jerry was standing trial for having sexually assaulted ten boys over the course of 15 years, Matt came forward to announce that he too had been a victim of his father’s abuse. Loyalty to his adoptive family inhibited him for years, Matt explains to director Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story), and now that he’s broken his silence, his mother and siblings will have nothing to do with him. In the Sandusky household, at Penn State, and in the Happy Valley region surrounding it, a strong sense of community can be a double-edged sword. Continue reading >>