Freeh Report exposes Penn State
BY HERB GOULD email@example.com July 12, 2012 10:32PM
KEY POINTS OF FREEH REPORT
• Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and others showed “callous and shocking disregard for child victims.”
• Evidence shows Paterno, Penn State president Graham Spanier, senior vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley did know of 1998 investigation, and Paterno “failed to take any action.”
• PSU let former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky retire in 1999 “not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy,” allowing him to groom victims.
• PSU “concealed critical facts ... to avoid consequences of bad publicity.”
• Paterno “was an integral part of this active decision to conceal,” and his firing was justified.
• PSU did not alert authorities to 2001 assault. Intervening factor in not reporting was conversation between Curley, Paterno.
• PSU failed to adhere to federal law requiring reporting crimes such as the ones Sandusky committed.
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Updated: August 14, 2012 6:34AM
Even with Jerry Sandusky behind bars and Joe Paterno no longer among the living, the Penn State scandal continues to boil over.
The release of the Freeh Report on Thursday documented how Paterno and other top school officials, including former university president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley, looked away while Sandusky engaged in child-predator activities.
‘‘Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,’’ said Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who was hired by university trustees to look into the Sandusky scandal. ‘‘The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children whom Sandusky victimized.’’
Sandusky was convicted on 45 criminal counts last month at a trial in which eight young men testified that he abused them when they were children. After Sandusky, a respected defensive coordinator, stopped coaching in 1998, he continued to use Penn State facilities via the Second Mile, the charity he founded to help disadvantaged youngsters. It also was fertile ground for finding victims, a situation ignored by Penn State’s highest leaders, Freeh said.
‘‘There are more red flags here than you can count,’’ said Freeh, whose 267-page report looked at more than 3.5 million ‘‘pieces of pertinent electronic data and documents.’’ The report outlined the failure of Paterno and other Penn State officials ‘‘to protect against a child sexual predator’’ who was engaging in criminal activities in athletic-department facilities.
The Paterno family issued a statement rejecting Freeh’s main finding, saying, ‘‘The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept. The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn’t fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events. Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone — law enforcement, his family, coaches, players, neighbors, university officials and everyone at Second Mile.’’
The Freeh Report has prompted media, fans and others to call for Penn State to receive the death penalty, an NCAA-mandated curtailment of the football program for at least one season.
If the NCAA, which generally oversees recruiting violations and other competitive issues, steps in, it is likely to use a broad interpretation of violations due to ‘‘lack of institutional control.’’
Whether it would do that, and the level of sanctions it might impose, is not clear at this point. Sanctioning a program for covering up the misdeeds, however appalling, by a former coach would be uncharted waters for the NCAA. But the ruling body could come under serious pressure to impose strong penalties in this unusual case.
“Like everyone else, we are reviewing the final report for the first time today,’’ an NCAA spokesman said in a statement. ‘‘As president [Mark] Emmert wrote in his Nov. 17 letter to Penn State president Rodney Erickson and reiterated this week, the university has four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies, to which it now needs to respond. Penn State’s response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action. We expect Penn State’s continued cooperation in our examination of these issues.”
NCAA officials also could argue that Penn State, by covering up the Sandusky transgressions, gained a recruiting advantage that would have been lost if the school had been embroiled in scandal.
‘‘We, the Penn State board of trustees, failed in our obligation to provide proper oversight,’’ trustee Kenneth Frazier, who chaired the special investigation task force formed in November, said in accepting the findings of the Freeh Report.