UNIVERSITY PARK, PA (RNN) – Pennsylvania State University senior leaders were more concerned with saving the university’s reputation than with protecting Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse victims, according to a report released Thursday.
Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse on June 22.
The team, headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, conducted more than 430 interviews since the report was commissioned by Penn State’s Board of Trustees in November 2011. The team also reviewed millions of emails and documents.
Head admin had a ‘total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims’
According to Freeh, head administrators were partially responsible for their failure to report allegations of child sexual abuse, especially since they knew about a 1998 criminal investigation into possible sexual misconduct by Sandusky.
In 1998, an investigation was launched over allegations Sandusky showered with a young boy in a Penn State locker room shower.
Emails between former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley show the trio knew about the suspected abuse, but warned Sandusky rather than going to the authorities.
The report indicates former head football coach Joe Paterno also shared some of the blame, although Freeh noted Paterno expressed remorse for his actions in hindsight.
At the time, however, “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 said.
Former assistant coach Mike McQueary told the jury at Sandusky’s trial that he saw the 68-year-old in an on-campus shower with a boy who appeared to be 10 or 12 years old. The incident occurred on Feb. 9, 2001.
He called Paterno the next morning to explain what he had seen to college football’s most winningest coach, but Sandusky never faced charges.
According to the report, Paterno said he didn’t know how to handle the allegations.
“I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he said. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”
Paterno reported the suspected abuse to Curley and Schultz.
Together with Spanier, the three senior administrators created a plan to tell the chair of Second Mile, a nonprofit for underprivileged youth which was founded by Sandusky, report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare and tell Sandusky not to be alone with children at Penn State.
Curley later emailed Schultz and Spanier to say he and Paterno were uncomfortable with the plan and thought offering him professional help would be more appropriate.
“Their failure to protect the February 9, 2001 child victim, or make attempts to identify him, created a dangerous situation for other unknown, unsuspecting young boys who were lured to the Penn State campus and football games by Sandusky and victimized repeatedly by him,” Freeh said.
He added that by speaking to Sandusky about the allegations without identifying the victim, they exposed the child to additional harm by the former assistant coach – the only one who could identify him.
In fact, according to Freeh, the only action the four took to try to protect potential future victims was to tell Second Mile Sandusky had been caught showering with a boy.
“The best they could muster to protect Sandusky’s victims was to ask Sandusky not to bring his ‘guests’ into the Penn State facilities,” he said.
Board of Trustees ‘failed to create an environment which held the University’s most senior leaders accountable to it’
Although investigators concluded Penn State’s Board of Trustees was unaware of the 1998 child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky, investigators found the Board was partially at fault for its ignorance.
The president, a senior vice president and general counsel didn’t report the allegation to the Board, as they were required to.
Freeh attributes this partially to the fact the Board had no regular reporting procedures to talk about risks to the university, and partially to the fact the Board was overconfident in Spanier’s abilities to handle a crisis.
The Board wasn’t aware of the allegations until March 31, 2011, but even after that “the Board failed in its duty to make reasonable inquiry into these serious matters and demand action by the president,” Freeh said.
University unprepared for sex abuse allegations
The 1990 Clery Act requires that colleges and universities using federal financial aid programs keep and disclose information about crime on and near their campuses.
The federal law requires crimes like child sex abuse be reported.
However, Spanier told investigators that he and the Board of Trustees had never had a conversation about the law until November 2011.
Despite the fact more than two decades have passed since the law was enacted, the school’s Clery Act implementation plan was still in draft form at the time of Sandusky’s arrest.
The case – which involved 10 sexually abused boys and spanned over 15 years – shocked the Penn State community and the nation while marring the reputation of the college’s incredibly successful football program.
Although he has yet to be sentenced, it is likely Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison – the minimum sentence for his conviction is 60 years in prison.
His attorneys have indicated they will appeal the conviction based on a lack of time to prepare for trial.
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Article Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News