Daniel Mendelsohn claims [NYT] homophobia abetted the sex abuse at Penn State:
Mr. McQueary’s refusal to process the scene he described — his coach having sex with another male — was reflected in the reaction of the university itself, which can only be called denial. You see this in the squeamish treatment of the assaults as a series of inscrutable peccadilloes best discussed — and indulged — behind closed doors. (Penn State’s athletic director subsequently characterized Mr. Sandusky’s alleged act as "horsing around," a term you suspect he would not have used to describe the rape of a 10-year-old girl.) Denial is there in the treatment of the victims as somehow untouchable, so fully tainted they couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be rescued. For Penn State officials, disgust at the perceived gay element seems to have outweighed the horror of the crimes themselves.
I think there's something to this, just as I think the fear of being seen to be gay was a reason the Church hierarchy reacted so appallingly to child rape. For men of the generation of Paterno and Ratzinger and Woytila, after all, homosexuality and pedophilia are entwined in the mind, however distinct they are in reality. And there is nothing more shocking for a church or college football team to be gay. Child-rapists of girls would have less of the irrational and self-destructive panic about this.
I wouldn't argue that this was the main reason for the cover-up. Child-rape of any gender is terribly damaging to an institution. But violation of a core heterosexual identity? Even worse in the skewed minds of some.