A report released today blasted senior members of the Penn State administration -- including head coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier -- for their response to allegations of sexual abuse by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky was convicted on June 22 of 45 criminal counts of child sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky retired in 1999, but kept an office at the school and used its facilities. He awaits sentencing in the fall.
Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI and chief investigator of the inquiry, said in remarks Thursday morning,
The evidence shows that these four men also knew about a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky relating to suspected sexual misconduct with a young boy in a Penn State football locker room shower. Again, they showed no concern about that victim. The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno's. At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also failed to alert the Board of Trustees about the 1998 investigation or take any further action against Mr. Sandusky. None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity.
The Freeh report went onto indict senior members of the Penn State administration for the "total disregard for the safety and welfare" of Sandusky's victims.
"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, " the report states. "In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University...repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse."
Further, and perhaps more damningly, the entire structure of Penn State's football program was criticized.
The AP reports:
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.
In terms of concrete misdoings under the law, the reports finds Penn State in violation of the Clery Act of 1990, a federal statute, "that requires the collecting and reporting of the crimes such as Sandusky committed on campus in 2001."
In order to create the report, Freeh and his team interviewed more than 430 people and analyzed more than 3.5 million emails.
The Penn State Board of Trustees has issue the following statement:
We want to ensure we are giving the report careful scrutiny and consideration before making any announcements or recommendations. We are convening an internal team comprising the Board of Trustees, University administration and our legal counsel to begin analyzing the report and digesting Judge Freeh's findings.
As we anticipate the review and approval process will take some time, our initial response and immediate next steps will be presented at 3:30 at the Dayton/Taylor Conference Room at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center.
These top-line reactions will provide an overview of our process for developing and implementing a plan once we have studied the report and have a better understanding of what it means and how we can implement findings to strengthen Penn State's role as a leading academic institution and ensure that what occurred will never be allowed to happen again.
In a press conference following the release of the report, Freeh placed the blame for Sandusky's widespread child abuse firmly on the culture of the school, citing an "active agreement to conceal" the scandal, which had "more red flags than you can count." Freeh noted that even the janitors at the school, after witnessing Sandusky raping a child, felt they could not report the incident for fear of losing their jobs, and that this was illustrative of the power of the program and the lack of accountability in play.
Although Freeh maintained his "great deal of respect" for Paterno and his legacy, he also stressed that Paterno could have stopped the abuse, and that in contrast to what his son Scott told New York Times, had been following the Sandusky case to some extent since 1998.
The Paterno family has not shied from the media.
Jay Paterno, son of Joe and himself a former member of the Penn State football program, told host Today Show host Matt Lauer that all the family has wanted is for an investigation to find the truth.
"We have never ever at any time been afraid to see what people have had to say," he said.
He went on to call the Freeh report just "one opinion, one piece of the puzzle.
"We've never been afraid of the truth, so let's have the truth come out and let's go from there."
Penn State's student body for their part, stressed their continual commitment to Penn State, "It is certainly a unique time in our University's history, but there has never been a more important time to remain Penn State. Never forget that we are 96,000 strong and remain bonded by our blue and white," the student body said in a statement.
This story is developing.