Freeh Outlines Report
Judge Louis Freeh's summary [PDF] of his group's report on the Penn State abuse scandal [PDF] opens with a call for everyone who sees child abuse to report it and an acknowledgement that the university was cooperative in the investigation. The Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan law firm launched its investigation into the facts and circumstances raised by the Grand Jury report and the criminal charges against former assistant football coach Gerald Sandusky in November of 2011.
The report finds Penn State failed to implement the provisions of the 1990 Clery Act, which is a federal law that requires the collecting and reporting of abuse. In fact, the report finds a "total disregard" for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. Freeh said President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, Football Coach Joe Paterno and Athletic Director Tim Curley "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest."
The report finds that the men involved originally planned to report to authorities what they knew after graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw Sandusky with a young boy in a locker room shower in February 2001, but then later changed their plans and did not talk to law enforcement officials. That change in plan, according to the report, came after Curley and Paterno spoke a second time.
"Their failure to protect the February 9, 2001 child victim, or make attempts to identify him, created a dangerous situation for other unknown, unsuspecting young boys who were lured to the Penn State campus and football games by Sandusky and victimized repeatedly by him," said Freeh of the report. "Further,they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child's identity, about what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001."
Freeh said the investigation finds that the report might not have made it to the top of the chain of command, Penn State President Graham Spanier.
"Mr. Spanier told the Special Investigative Counsel that he was never told by anyone that the February 2001 incident in the shower involved the sexual abuse of a child but only 'horsing around.' He further stated that he never asked what 'horsing around' by Sandusky entailed," the report said.
"Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large," said Freeh.
Investigators conducted more than 430 interviews and reviewed more than 3.5 million emails and other documents.
Freeh said his team tired to adhere to the original mandate given to it by the Penn State Board "to investigate this matter fully, fairly, and completely, without fear or favor."
"We have shown no favoritism toward any of the parties, including the Board of Trustees itself, our client," said Freeh.
The investigation went beyond the February 2001 incident. "The evidence shows that these four men also knew about a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky relating to suspected sexual misconduct with a young boy in a Penn State football locker room shower. Again, they showed no concern about that victim," said Freeh.
The former U.S. District Judge said Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff and the board about the incident to make sure it would not happen again.
"In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity," said Freeh.
The report finds what Freeh called a callous and shocking disregard for child victims. Freeh did give some praise to Paterno for saying, "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
Freeh's criticism of the Penn State power structure does not stop with the football team. "In this matter, the Board — despite its duties of care and oversight of the University and its Officers — failed to create an environment which held the University's most senior leaders accountable to it," said Freeh.
The report blasts Spanier for resisting the board's attempts to be more transparent. It goes on to say the board failed in its duty to make reasonable inquiry into these serious matters and to demand action by the president. "From 1998-2011, Penn State's 'Tone at the Top' for transparency, compliance, police reporting and child protection was completely wrong, as shown by the inaction and concealment on the part of its most senior leaders, and followed by those at the bottom of the University's pyramid of power," said Freeh.
The report made 14 preliminary recommendations in January, almost all of which Freeh said have been implemented. The report also includes 119 other recommendations. "One of the most important of our recommendations is for Penn State itself to study, evaluate and make any needed additional changes. The goal should be to create a more open and compliant culture, which protects children and not adults who abuse them," said Freeh.
Freeh said the investigators' work is over, but he and his team will be available to the Board of Trustees for any further questions.
Freeh concluded his presentation with the following words:
"It is critical that Old Main, the Board and the Penn State community never forget these failures and commit themselves to strengthening an open, compliant and victim-sensitive environment, where everyone has the duty to 'blow the whistle' on anyone who breaks this trust, no matter how powerful or prominent they may appear to be."
Governor Tom Corbett was state Attorney General and convened the grand jury in 2009 to investigate the allegations that led to the Sandusky trial, charges against Schulz and Curley, and ultimately the Freeh investigation
"There are monsters among us; people who will hurt children for their own sexual gratification" Corbett said. "Every university, school, business and individual has an obligation to follow up and report such cases."
Corbett said he will work with Penn State administrators and trustees to implement Freeh's recommendations.
"This case is of such significance that I hope people will learn from it, and we will see that the failure to protect children does not happen again," said Corbett.