BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CBS Cleveland/AP) - An independent report released by Judge Louis Freeh and his law firm states that a Special Investigative Counsel formed by the University’s Board of Trustees found senior leaders at Penn State University had shown “total and consistent disregard … for the safety and welfare of (Jerry) Sandusky’s child victims.”
Freeh, working with Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP, were looking into “the facts and circumstances of the actions of … Pennsylvania State University surrounding the child abuse committed by a former employee, Gerald A. Sandusky,” the website hosting the report - thefreehreportonpsu.com - stated before the report itself went live at 9 a.m. Thursday.
The report specifically implicates former president Graham B. Spanier, senior vice president-finance and business Gary C. Schultz, athletic director Timothy Curley and former head football coach Joseph V. Paterno.
Curley is presently suspended from his position. Schultz, who had retired from working at Penn State in 2009, returned to the school in his present role last July, according to Penn State Live. The scandal led to the ouster of Paterno and the school’s president.
“These individuals, unchecked by the Board of Trustees that did not perform its oversight duties, empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access to the University’s facilities and affiliation with the University’s prominent football program,” the report continued. “Indeed, that continued access provided Sandusky with the very currency that enabled him to attract his victims.”
The report says all four knew about a 1998 investigation into Sandusky that didn’t result in criminal charges at the time, but none alerted the trustees and none took further action against Sandusky.
Paterno and other senior officials “concealed critical facts” about Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse because they were worried about bad publicity, the internal investigation into the scandal concluded.
“In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the university — Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse,” the report said.
Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley reportedly gave differing reasons for their actions.
While Curley and Schultz said through their counsel that they felt the “humane” course of action was to “carefully and responsibly assess the best way to handle vague but troubling allegations,” Paterno told press that he was not sure how to handle the matter, and did not wish to jeopardize University procedure.
Spanier told the investigative counsel that he had never heard reports of sex abuse, and that if he had known or thought such occurrences were happening, he would have been “the first to intervene.”
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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