Freeh Report torpedoes Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky cover-up
SI.com will have much more on the Freeh Report throughout the day, but for those of you without the time or stomach to page through the whole thing, we’ve summarized some important bits below. For more reading material, including copies of e-mails between high-ranking Penn State officials, click through. [Note: That website has been experiencing some hiccups due to high traffic this morning; SI has an archive copy of the full report here.]
As expected, the report is full of damning blows for those at the loftiest levels of the university operating system, most particularly Penn State president Graham Spanier, Senior vice president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley and Joe Paterno: “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. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.” Freeh’s group states the four men “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities.”
Yes, conceal. And yes, Paterno is included in that sweeping statement. Freeh emphasized that during today’s press conference, stating, “The facts are the facts. [Paterno] was an integral part of the act to conceal.”
Other takeaways from the Freeh Report:
• All four power players investigated (Spanier, Schultz, Curley, Paterno) knew about the 1998 criminal investigation against Sandusky and the boy known as Victim 6. “None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity.” This contradicts both Paterno’s testimony to the grand jury and statements Paterno made to Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, and casts administrators’ inaction following the 2001 Mike McQueary report in an even more horrible light.
• Sandusky’s emeritus designation upon retiring in 1999 allowed him to continue using the university’s athletic facilities. “Sandusky’s positions in the University did not meet the general eligibility requirements for this honor, yet University administrators found themselves in a ‘bind’ because Spanier had promised the emeritus rank to Sandusky.”
• University janitors who witnessed Sandusky’s assaults in the fall of 2000 never reported the incidents for fear of retribution.
• University authorities had a plan in February 2001, detailed in e-mails, to alert outside parties following McQueary’s report. “After Mr. Curley consulted with Mr. Paterno, however, they changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the authorities.”
• And following the February 2001 incident: “There is no information indicating that Spanier, Schultz, Paterno or Curley made any effort to identify the child victim or determine if he had been harmed.”
• Penn State’s athletic department “has an Associate Athletic Director responsible for NCAA compliance, but that group is significantly understaffed.”
• The school also neglected to adhere to the federal Clery Act, which requires the compilation of on-campus crime statistics and safety reports and the reporting of criminal acts through proper channels. “As of November 2011, the University’s Clery Act policy was still in draft form and had not been implemented.”
• And even in 2011, after the initial Patriot News article came out, “Spanier and [University general counsel Cynthia] Baldwin opposed an independent investigation of the Sandusky issue, with Baldwin stating that ‘If we do this, we will never get rid of this [outside investigative] group in some shape or form. The Board will then think they should have such a group.’ Spanier agreed.”
• And finally: “Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University — Messrs. 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. Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky’s victims.”