Report finds Penn State leaders concealed sex abuse scandal
Published Thursday, July 12, 2012 6:28AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 12, 2012 11:03PM EDT
Senior Penn State University officials concealed Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children to avoid bad publicity, a scathing report into the scandal has concluded.
The independent report, released Thursday, says Penn State leaders disregarded the safety and welfare of victims who were molested by the former assistant football coach.
Penn State’s legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in the wake of the scandal and died early this year of lung cancer, was “an integral part of this active decision to conceal,” concluded the investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," Freeh said at a news conference in Philadelphia after the release of the 267-page report.
He said university officials’ behaviour was “callous and shocking.”
Sandusky was convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years and is awaiting sentencing in jail.
Freeh, who was hired by Penn State’s board of directors, said his team was very thorough, conducting more than 430 interviews.
The investigation team included a former navy seal, former prosecutors, FBI agents and police officers “with many decades of experience in conducting sensitive investigations, especially crimes against children.”
Freeh commended Penn State for respecting the team’s independence.
“We have shown no favoritism to any parties including the board of trustees, our client. At all times, our demand for total independence was respected,” Freeh said.
“We took the unusual step of not providing any draft of this report to the board of trustees or to the taskforce prior to the posting this morning. They are seeing it today for the first time, as all of you are.”
Freeh’s mandate was to clarify what happened, including who knew what when. His team looked at any failures or gaps in reporting the sex assaults as well as the culture that may have these crimes against children to occur and go undetected for at least 14 years.
The report points the finger at a handful of people, including Paterno, the board of trustees, former Penn State president Graham Spanier, the former vice president Gary Schultz, and the director of athletics Tim Curley who is now on leave.
Spanier was ousted from Penn State along with Paterno after Sandusky’s arrest.
In a statement, Paterno's family insisted the coach did not protect Sandusky to save Penn State’s reputation.
"The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept. The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn't fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events," the family said. "Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone."
Lawyers for Spanier, Curley and Schultz also denied their clients took part in the alleged coverup.
The release of the report is an important step for the legendary school in moving forward and telling the truth about how the sex abuse scandal happened, says one industry expert.
“Today is a big day because Penn State wants to move forward. They want to get this scandal behind them. They’re prepared to deal with civil law suits,” Howard Bloom of Sports Business News told CTV News Channel.
“They want to move forward. The only way to move forward is to admit you had a problem. The only way to move forward is to admit the truth and that begins this morning.”
The chairperson of Penn State board of trustees, Karen Peetz, said Thursday the board takes “full responsibility for the failures that occurred.”
Paterno’s “61 years of excellent service…to the university is now marred and we have to step back and ask what does that mean,” she said.
With a report from CTV’s Joy Malbon and files from The Associated Press