Freeh report condemns Penn State for a university-wide coverup of sexual assault

Kristian Dyer

Former FBI director Louis Freeh released his report on Thursday morning that likely will create more headaches for Penn State in their handling of the Jerry Sandusky incident. The report hammered former university president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, late head coach Joe Paterno and others for being "able to make decisions to avoid the consequences of bad publicity."

Much of the report focuses on what Freeh calls "an overemphasis on The Penn State Way as an approach to decision making." Included in this was a cover up of an incident involving Sandusky and a young boy on athletic department property. The Freeh Report points to this as part of a bigger problem, especially in failing to report the incident under the Clery Act, a federal act which covers "Institutional security policies."

"For the past several decades, the University's Athletic Department was permitted to become a closed community," the report said. "There was little personnel turnover or hiring from outside the University and strong internal loyalty. The football program, in particular, opted out of the University's Clery Act, sexual abuse awareness and summer camp procedures training. The Athletic Department was perceived by many as 'an island' where staff members lived by their own rules."

The Freeh Report is just the latest bit of bad news for the university in what has been a rollercoaster three weeks. On June 22, Sandusky, a former assistant coach on the football team, was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse including at least one act committed on university property. Then a week later, a CNN report pointed towards a university-wide coverup of the incident which reportedly included Paterno and other high-ranking university officials. Now, Thursday's Freeh Report paints the picture of a university run amuck and obsessed with athletics.

Freeh's report, which numbered 267 pages, clearly points to a culture at Penn State of corruption and collusion. Freeh and his staff conducted 430 interviews and reviewed more than 3.5 million documents. What emerged was expected, including a call for greater transparency, background checks and that the athletic department must have complete oversight of the program and the activities of its staff.

At no point in the report is there a recommendation for sanctions or any type of penalty that would affect the Nittany Lions football program on the field. But there is a clear sense that for years, the athletic department ran things in a manner to protect the football program's prestige as a national powerhouse. It was termed by the report as "an excessive focus on athletics that can, if not recognized, negatively impact the University's reputation as a progressive institution."

"The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims," the report said.

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