Posts tagged ‘Louis Freeh’

The Freeh Report, and its Fallout

“The evidence clearly shows, in our view, an active agreement to conceal.”

Of all the answers former FBI director Louis Freeh gave today after the release of his group’s 267-page report on the Sandusky scandal, this might have been the most blunt. The report’s findings center on a Penn State leadership culture devoid of accountability at the highest level, in which a handful of men—Graham Spanier, Tim Curley ’76, ’78g,  Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g,  and Joe Paterno—failed in their responsibility to expose a serial pedophile. Their motivation, in Freeh’s words, was “avoiding the consequences of bad publicity.”

The Board of Trustees is cited as well for a failure to press for answers and hold the university’s administration accountable. The picture presented is clear: Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g was the monster in all this, but he was enabled, directly or not, by many others who had the power to stop him.

On Thursday, as throughout the scandal, much of the attention focused on Paterno’s accountability. On this, Freeh was careful but direct. “We have a great deal of respect for Mr. Paterno, and condolences for his family on their loss. He’s a person with a great legacy, terrific legacy… he, as someone once said, made perhaps the worst mistake of his life. We’re not singling him out. We’re putting him in a category of three other people who were major leaders of Penn State. He was also a major leader of Penn State. The facts are the facts… There’s a whole bunch of evidence here. We’re saying he was a major part of an active attempt to conceal… I regret that. But what my report says is what the evidence and the facts show. We laid that out as fairly and clearly as we can.”

The reactions from elsewhere in the Penn State community followed later in the day. Late Thursday morning, the Paterno family released a statement that defended its patriarch. “The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept,” it reads. “The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn’t fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events.”

The family statement goes on: “Joe Paterno wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes and he regretted them. He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. To think, however, that he would have protected Jerry Sandusky to avoid bad publicity is simply not realistic.”

Penn State president Rod Erickson and the university trustees met the media in Scranton in mid-afternoon. Board chair Karen Peetz ’77 and Ken Frazier ’75, who led the board’s investigative panel, both emphasized the trustees’ collective accountability in the scandal. Said Frazier, “We, the Penn State Board of Trustees, failed to provide proper oversight for the university’s operations.” Peetz echoed that statement, but said no trustees planned to resign, focusing on the acknowledgment of culpability as the first step in moving forward.

Both Peetz and Frazier addressed Paterno, commending his accomplishments and his massive positive impact on the university. But Peetz also acknowledged the “clarity that comes out of that report, that shows 61 years of excellent service to the university is now marred.”

The Board’s official statement on the Freeh Report, including details of action already taken and future plans, can be found here.

The public response to the report was immediate and harsh, much of it damning of Paterno and demanding NCAA sanctions against the Penn State football program. In Oregon, Nike announced that Paterno’s name would no longer adorn the childcare center at its headquarters. Phil Knight, the Nike founder and longtime Paterno family friend, said in a statement, “According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

July 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm 13 comments

Freeh Report is Out

I can only imagine how many people bookmarked the link to the Freeh Report site and went there at 9 this morning, constantly hitting “refresh” on their browser until the report finally showed up. I know I was one, and so were lots of my coworkers, not to mention countless alumni, the news media, and the general public.

The site is having a little trouble keeping up with the traffic, but there’s also a link to it at the USA Today site (thanks to Kate Dailey ’02 for pointing that out).

The report is 267 pages long; it’s the result of an investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, an investigation that involved conducting more than 430 interviews and analyzing more than 3.5 million emails and other documents. It will take some time for everyone—the Penn State administration, trustees, the news media, and all the rest of us—to read and digest its contents.

If you don’t want to download the full report, the Freeh site also includes a seven-page set of remarks providing an overview of the findings. They aren’t pretty. Here are some excerpts from the release:

—”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.”

—”Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is … 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.”

The report also offers Penn State 119 recommendations. “The goal,” according to Freeh’s statement, “should be to create a more open and compliant culture, which protects children and not adults who abuse them.”

We’ll hear more from Louis Freeh at a news conference at 10 a.m. Eastern today, and the university will hold a news conference at 3:30 this afternoon. Penn State’s reactions will also be available at live.psu.edu and at progress.psu.edu.

Tina Hay, editor

July 12, 2012 at 9:44 am 3 comments

Peetz, Erickson Answer Questions from Alumni Council

Six months after the Sandusky scandal broke, there are still questions. Lots of them. And, as Penn State president Rodney Erickson told Alumni Council, “There may be some questions we’ll never have answers for.”

That said, Erickson and Karen Peetz, chair of the Board of Trustees, answered as many as they could Friday afternoon from members of Alumni Council. They touched on everything from the relationship between the trustees and the president (something they agreed is not well enough understood) to what Peetz called “the super-positive of the enduring spirit of Penn Staters.” And they fielded several questions about Joe Paterno, including one that’s been asked at just about every opportunity: When and how will Penn State honor its late football coach?

Peetz said, as she has previously, that Penn State must wait until the Freeh report, more formally known as the findings of the trustees’ special investigations task force, before moving forward on plans to honor Paterno. She called the upcoming report “the ultimate in transparency.”

Former FBI director Louis Freeh was hired by the trustees just weeks after the scandal and charged with looking into all of the issues surrounding the scandal since. His findings—which Peetz said will not be edited by the board—are expected in August or September.

The task force does not have subpoena power. But Peetz said she spoke with Freeh’s investigators for three hours, that more than 200 people have been interviewed, and that Freeh is working with the state attorney general. “These people are not kidding around,” she said. “This is the FBI incarnate, and I don’t think anyone’s lying, I’ll tell you that.” (more…)

April 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm 11 comments


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