BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CBS Cleveland/AP) - Several custodians working at Penn State University during Jerry Sandusky’s time at the school allegedly caught him molesting children, but did not report what they had seen for fear of losing their jobs.
An independent report released by Judge Louis Freeh and his law firm on Thursday found that senior leaders at Penn State University had shown “total and consistent disregard … for the safety and welfare of (Jerry) Sandusky’s child victims.”
In the report, two janitors are quoted as telling investigators that they observed incidents of abuse during the fall semester of 2000, but failed to report the incidents.
In a timeline written out in the report, one janitor said he worried that “they’ll get rid of us all” when he saw Sandusky abuse a child in November of that year.
“Also that evening, another janitor saw two pairs of feet in the same shower [where the other janitor observed sexual assault], then saw Sandusky and a young boy leaving the locker room holding hands,” the report additionally noted in its “Key Findings” section. “Fearing that they would be fired for disclosing what they saw, neither janitor reported the incidents to University officials, law enforcement or child protection authorities.”
The report claims one of the janitors especially feared head coach Joe Paterno. That janitor told investigators, “I know Paterno has so much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone.”
The 267-page report is the result of an eight-month inquiry by Freeh, a former FBI director hired by university trustees weeks after Sandusky was arrested in November to look into what has become one of sports’ biggest scandals.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts.
The report also singled out the revered Penn State football program — one built on the motto “success with honor” — for criticism. It says Paterno and university leaders allowed Sandusky to retire in 1999, “not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, with future ‘visibility’ at Penn State’,” allowing him to groom victims.
Sandusky’s trial last month included gut-wrenching testimony from eight young men who said he abused them as boys, sometimes on campus, and included testimony that showed he used his prestige as a university celebrity to manipulate the children.
By contrast, Freeh’s team focused on Penn State and what its employees did — or did not do — to protect children.
More than 430 current or former school employees were interviewed since November, including nearly everyone associated with the football program under Paterno. The Hall of Fame coach died of lung cancer in January at age 85, without telling Freeh’s team his account of what happened.
With the report now complete, the NCAA said Penn State now must address four key questions concerning “institutional control and ethics policies,” as outlined in a letter sent to the school last fall.
“Penn State’s response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action,” said Bob Williams, the NCAA’s vice president of communications. “We expect Penn State’s continued cooperation in our examination of these issues.”
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