Sandusky Scandal: Department of Education to Investigate Penn State

The U.S. Department of Education will launch an investigation into whether Penn State University failed to comply with the Clery Act in dealing with allegations of sex offenses on campus by a former school official, says a press release.

Former Penn State Defensive Coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing several young boys over several years, including incidents on campus and questions have been raised over the school’s dealing with the issue. And the allegations took another last week when two top PSU officials stepped down and were set to be arraigned, as Cindy Boren reported at the Washington Post.

Under the Clery Act (or to give it its full name ‘the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act’), colleges and universities are required to disclose all criminal offenses on campus that are reported each year. In certain cases, the institution must also issue a warning if a reported crime represents a threat to the campus community.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said:

“If these allegations of sexual abuse are true then this is a horrible tragedy for those young boys.  If it turns out that some people at the school knew of the abuse and did nothing or covered it up, that makes it even worse.  Schools and school officials have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children and young people from violence and abuse.”

Sandusky was a Penn State legend, and this scandal has shaken the school to the core. The Huffington Post provides a timeline of events.

“This is not a case about football. This is not a case about universities. This is a case about children that have had their innocence stolen and a culture that did nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening to others,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan.

The university has banned Sandusky from the campus. He is out on $100,000 bail, but faces charges that could put him in prison for life, as reported at Education News.

The Second Mile charity that Sandusky started back in 1977 to help troubled children said in a statement Sunday that Sandusky has had no involvement with The Second Mile programs involving children since 2008, when Sandusky told the foundation that he was being investigated on child-sex allegations.

The investigation of Clery Act violations will be conducted by the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Department of Education officials notified Penn State of the investigation in a letter this week. As the FSA investigation proceeds, the Office for Civil Rights will also assess whether further investigations or enforcement actions are warranted, says the press release.