Freeh report: Penn State leadership 'repeatedly concealed critical facts'

By Jon Schmitz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 12, 2012

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh issued his report today on Penn State's handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Sandsuky, top center, is seen here shortly after he was convicted on 45 counts of sexually assaulting 10 boys. On the bottom, from left, late Penn State coach Joe Paterno; former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz; former athletic director Tim Curley; and former Penn State president Graham Spanier. (AP)

A special investigator today condemned Penn State University leadership for what he called "the total disregard for the safety and welfare" of children who were sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," investigator Louis Freeh said in remarks prepared for a 10 a.m. news conference.

In his 267-page report, compiled after 430 interviews and the review of 3.5 million emails and other documents, he named names.

"Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University -- President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno -- failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade," according to the report. "These men concealed Sandusky's activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.

"Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child's identity, of what (graduate assistant Mike) McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February, 9, 2001," according to the report.

In his prepared remarks, Mr. Freeh said Paterno in particular failed to step in.

"The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno's," Mr. Freeh said.

A campus committee dominated by Penn State trustees retained Mr. Freeh, a former FBI director and a former federal judge, in November, promising a comprehensive and unbiased investigation of the sex abuse scandal.

"No one is above scrutiny," the committee's chairman, Penn State trustee and Merck chief executive officer Kenneth Frazier, said at the time.

Mr. Sandusky was convicted last month on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. The scandal led to the ouster of Mr. Spanier and Paterno, who died in January of complications from lung cancer.

It also resulted in charges against Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley, who are accused of failing to properly report suspected child abuse and lying to a grand jury.

'Is this the opening of pandora's box?'
According to the Freeh report, before May 1998, several staff members and football coaches "regularly observed Sandusky showering with young boys in the Lasch Building ... none of the individuals interviewed notified their superiors of this behavior."

After the mother of a young boy reported a possible sexual assault by Sandusky on May 3, 1998, university police and the state Department of Public Welfare investigated. Two days later, Mr. Schultz wrote in his notes: "Is this the opening of pandora's box? Other children?"

On June 9, 1998, Mr. Schultz sent an email to Mr. Spanier and Mr. Curley, saying "I think the matter has been appropriately investigated and I hope it is now behind us."

No charges were filed in connection with that incident, and none of the Penn State hierarchy spoke to Mr. Sandusky about his conduct. Nor did they take action to limit his access to Penn State facilities "or took any measures to protect children on their campuses," the report said.

A detective who interviewed Mr. Sandusky at the time recalled telling him not to shower with children and that he replied that he wouldn't.

Noting that Mr. Sandusky was convicted of several assaults that occurred after 1998, the report said that some of the assaults "might have been prevented had Sandusky been prohibited from bringing minors to University facilities and University football bowl games."

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