An investigation headed up by former FBI Director Louis Freeh into the Penn State University child abuse scandal found that top university officials, including football coach Joe Paterno, failed to protect the young victims of convicted sexual abuser Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach at the school.
The special investigative counsel looking into the role of the university released its scathing report this morning, the Los Angeles Times reports. The investigation, ordered by the Penn State Board of Trustees, concluded that top university officials failed to act when reports surfaced that Sandusky had molested children on school grounds.
Sandusky, who was the top defensive coach for the Penn State football team, was found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a span of 15 years. He is currently in jail awaiting sentencing.
In a letter accompanying the report, Freeh writes: “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.”
Freeh adds that university officials “never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”
The Times story notes: “Investigators found that in order to avoid ‘bad publicity,’ university President Graham Spanier, football Coach Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz ‘repeatedly concealed critical facts.’”
The story adds: “Spanier and Paterno were forced out of their jobs after Sandusky was arrested last fall. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failing to report the abuse to outside officials.”
The investigation noted that Spanier, Peterno, Curley and Schultz were all aware of a 1998 probe into Sandusky’s actions, and all four men failed to alert Penn State trustees or to take any action against Sandusky. Criminal charges against Sandusky did not materialize until years later.
Freeh writes: “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” to the campus.
The Times piece adds: “Perhaps more damaging for the university, which is expected to face a barrage of civil lawsuits from Sandusky’s victims, are the events of Feb 9, 2001, when a former graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, returned to the football training facilities. At Sandusky’s trial, McQueary testified he saw the former coach engaging in what he thought was a sex act with a boy of 10 to 12 years old. McQueary went to Paterno and told of what he saw.
“Paterno then went to his superiors, who decided not to call in outside authorities. Freeh was sharply critical of that decision and said the action to keep the reports internal was due to Paterno, who convinced other officials not to take action outside of the university.”