Former FBI head and federal judge Louis Freeh has released a devastating report on the results of the independent investigation into the role played by high-ranking Penn State University (PSA) officials in covering up and enabling the crimes of Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted last month of 45 out of 48 charges relating to the sexual abuse of young boys. Freeh addressed reporters Thursday morning, saying that Penn State had fallen short on virtually every level with regards to halting and reporting the abuse.
“Our most saddening and sobering finding,” Freeh said, “is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior officials 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.”
Legendary football coach, the late Joe “Pa” Paterno, long-time university president Graham Spanier, university vice-president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley, who Freeh called “the four most powerful people at Penn State University” all conspired to conceal the truth and to protect Sandusky from the consequences of his actions. The only real concern of the four men was to avoid “the consequences of bad publicity,” he said.
When informed in 2001 by Assistant Coach Mike McQueary that he had seen Sandusky abusing a young boy in the shower, Paterno delayed contacting other officials about the matter because he “didn’t want to interfere with their weekends,” he explained to investigators, “(so) either Saturday or Monday, I talked to my boss, Tim Curley, by phone, saying, ‘Hey we got a problem’ and I explained the problem to him.”
Nonetheless, in the wake of the incident, Sandusky was allowed continued access to teen boys and Penn State facilities.
Freeh ducked questions as to whether or not Paterno perjured himself, but the investigation’s findings directly contradict public statements Paterno made before his death in January of this year. The former FBI director blamed a culture of impunity at all levels of the athletic program, from the four most powerful men at the top to the janitors at the bottom of the power structure.
Janitors proved to be some of the investigation’s most important witnesses. One janitor witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in 2000, but decided with other janitors not to report the assistant coach for fear of reprisals.
Freeh cited the corrupt “tone at the top” that “empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access” to campus and football locker rooms, showers and other facilities. Sandusky ran the charity A Second Mile, which purportedly sought to intervene in the lives of at-risk teen boys, but which in fact was the means by which the assistant coach found and groomed his victims.
“There’s more red flags here than you could count over a long period of time,” Freeh said in Thursday’s press conference.
The investigation was convened in the wake of Sandusky’s arrest and operated simultaneously to the criminal investigation and trial. It examined allegations made against Sandusky as far back as 1998, when a mother of one of the abused boys complained to the university’s athletic department.
According to the Boston Herald, “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.’”
When asked by reporters whether fresh criminal charges will be brought against Spanier, Schultz and Curley, Freeh replied that those determinations were not his to make, but would rest with a grand jury. Currently, there are no official plans to enpanel a second grand jury to investigate the matter further.
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