Report on Penn State Scandal Released, Shows Mishandling

Earlier this week, the Freeh Group and its head, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, released the eagerly awaited report on his investigation into the Penn State sex abuse scandal. Freeh was hired by the school’s Board of Trustees last year to find out if any university staff worked to cover up the accusations of child molestation against the school’s former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. In his findings, he wrote that staff members, in particular the former President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, Vice President Gary Schultz and the revered football coach Joe Paterno all worked together to hush up the scandal so as to not bring bad publicity onto the school.

“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 former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was hired by university trustees to look into what has become one of sports’ biggest scandals. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

The report comes as Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of 45 criminal counts related to the sexual abuse of 10 boys.

Before the investigation was concluded, some said that it represents a conflict of interest for Freeh, and instead of trying to uncover the truth, he would attempt to absolve everyone at Penn State from responsibility. But even before the final report was released, leaks of emails between the principals about the 1998 incident when a mother of a Second Mile boy went to the police after Sandusky allegedly groped her son, made it clear that Freeh wasn’t looking to clear anyone.

Even the body that hired him, the Board of Trustees, came for criticism in the 267-page report, with Freeh writing that the body abdicated its oversight responsibilities in the wake of another sexual abuse allegation in 2001. When Spanier told the board members that this wasn’t the first time that law enforcement was looking into Sandusky’s relationship with young males, none of the trustees asked for details about any previous incidents.

During a press conference, issued later the same day, board members said that they found the report “sobering,” and said that they will use its conclusions in determining steps that the school must take in order to make sure that this kind of scandal doesn’t recur.

Karen Peetz, the chairwoman of the board, said at this point there will be no more resignations on the 32-member board. She said the board owns the responsibility of the oversight.

“We are grateful for the report,” she said. “We will study the document as we push forward.”

Peetz said the panel believes Paterno’s “61 years of excellent service to the university is now marred,” by the scandal and how he handled the accusations.

Another trustee, Kenneth Frazier, said, “Our hearts remain heavy and we are deeply ashamed.”

Penn State is currently also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education, and the spokesman for the NCAA said that the organization is also looking at the findings closely and trying to determine if the school’s football program violated any rules.