On June 22, the same day Sandusky was convicted, Monsignor William J. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of endangering children by shifting abusive priests around Philadelphia parishes. Lynn, who was the first Catholic church official accused of enabling child sex abuse, was sentenced to three to six years in prison.
"There should be no expectation of a quick fix when kids are sexually violated and responsible adults hide it," David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told The Morning Call in July. "These scandals should be prompting lots of discussions and hard doubt and self-examination."
In another tale of abuse, The Los Angeles Times reported the Boy Scouts of America failed to turn over hundreds of alleged child molesters to police, often hiding the allegations from victims' parents and the public. Some of the documents in what the Boy Scouts referred to as "perversion files" — essentially a blacklist of officials banned from the organization — included accusations against scoutmasters in Catasauqua, Bethlehem, Lansdale, New Tripoli and Souderton.
Storm and sadness
As if those proverbial storms weren't bad enough, the East Coast was rocked in October by a freak of nature, Superstorm Sandy.
The combination hurricane and winter storm destroyed parts of the Jersey Shore and was responsible for the deaths of at least 88 people. In Seaside Heights, home to the "Jersey Shore" television show, the iconic Star Jet roller coaster was ripped from the boardwalk and remains partially submerged in the ocean.
In the Lehigh Valley, homes were flooded and wind-damaged and hundreds of thousands of residents were without power, some for more than a week. Shelters opened across the region, though most people weathered the fallout in their cold, dark homes. The powerless packed coffee shops, diners and schools, which offered hot showers. And they grew increasingly frustrated as the dark days wore on.
"We didn't think that we would get hit this bad," said Tina Wunderler of Lehigh Township. "And we didn't expect to be out of power for six days."
Later, PPL determined that Sandy was the most devastating storm in the utility's history, knocking out power to more than half a million customers.
The Lehigh Valley mobilized with a "Stand up to Sandy" campaign to help local victims, which has raised more than $150,000.
While the disaster's scope was unparalleled this year, it's magnitude was not. Eleven days before Christmas, a gunman fired his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., committing an unfathomable act. Twenty children, all ages 6 and 7, were massacred in their classrooms, along with their principal, some teachers and other adults who had tried to protect them.
The death toll was at 27 when the 20-year-old shooter, Adam Lanza, took his own life. Vigils sprouted across the country, including several in the Lehigh Valley, to mourn and remember the victims, including teacher Lauren Rousseau, who was known to visit Musikfest with her uncle and aunt from Bethlehem Township.
Angelika Cornelius was among more than 100 people who gathered in a cold rain for a vigil at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem.
"This really hit home with me that such young lives could be cut off," she said, expressing the thoughts of many.
Elections and Olympics
Of course, no look back at 2012 would be complete without mentioning November's election. President Barack Obama fended off a challenge from Republican Mitt Romney despite a nearly 8 percent unemployment rate. Obama won Pennsylvania, along with Lehigh and Northampton counties, on his way to victory.
Romney had emerged from a slew of Republican hopefuls, including former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., whose sweater vests and Christian values earned him enough support to finish second in the Iowa Caucus and get spoofed on "Saturday Night Live."
Locally, state Rep. Joe Brennan chose not to run again after he was charged with assaulting his wife and driving away drunk.
Charlie Dent, R-15th, won a fifth term as congressman representing most of the Lehigh Valley. And political newcomer Matt Cartwright, a Scranton attorney, won the 17th District seat after defeating 10-term U.S. Rep. Tim Holden in the Democratic primary.
The presidential election followed another event that happens every four years — the summer Olympics. The United States won 104 medals in the London games, more than any other country, and led the gold count with 46. The nation cheered as swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning six medals to bring his total to 22.