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The Freeh Report Finds Penn State Leaders At Fault

Former FBI director Louis Freeh
AP Photo
Matt Rourke

The long-awaited Freeh Report is unambiguous. It assigns blame for mishandling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal to four men – Penn State President Graham Spanier, Senior Vice-President Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Head Football Coach Joe Paterno.

Members of the Penn State board of trustees received the report they commissioned at the same time as everyone else yesterday. An hour later, former FBI head Louis Freeh – who led the investigation – spoke about the findings in the report.

"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," Freeh said.

Freeh said some of the most telling and critical information came from the janitors who witnessed Sandusky raping a boy. Freeh said the fact that they failed to come forward spoke to him of a culture of silence at Penn State.

“They were afraid to take on the football program," Freeh said. "They said the university would circle around it. It was like taking on the president of the United States. If that’s the culture on the bottom, God help the culture at the top.”

Joe Paterno died before the Freeh investigation could talk to him, but Freeh says Paterno was definitely involved in keeping the Sandusky situation quiet.

“There’s a whole bunch of evidence here and we’re saying the reasonable conclusion from that evidence is he was an integral part of this active decision to conceal,” Freeh said.

Members of the Penn State Board of Trustees were also called out for a lack of oversight and for not creating an environment where senior university officials felt accountable.

Kenneth Frazier, the Board of Trustees’ chair of the independent investigation, says the board feels “ashamed” for not having pressed the school’s ousted president Graham Spanier for more details when a media report published in March of 2011 alleged Sandusky was being investigated for child sexual abuse.

“We did ask President Spanier questions, we got answers," Frazier said. "I think what we can be blamed for, in hindsight, is that we didn’t probe more deeply after we got the first set of answers.”

The Freeh report includes a list of 120 recommended changes that Penn State could make to improve governance and to protect children.