Report: Penn State Did Nothing To Stop Sandusky
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. Today, we got the results of a much anticipated report on the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State. It is scathing. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh was hired by the university to lead months of investigation and hundreds of interviews. Among the conclusions: that four leaders at the university did nothing to report or stop former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The report issues a direct hit to the legacy of the late head coach, Joe Paterno, and it calls on Penn State to change its culture. NPR's Jeff Brady reports from Philadelphia.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Joe Paterno died in January, and his family denies he would have ever done anything to protect a child predator. But former federal judge and FBI Director Louis Freeh says he did just that, though Freeh says Paterno did not act alone.
LOUIS FREEH: 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.
BRADY: Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys. He's awaiting sentencing. Freeh focused his report on four men: Joe Paterno, former Penn State President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and school Vice President Gary Schultz. Freeh says all four were aware of specific allegations against Sandusky as far back as 1998, but Freeh says they never called police.
FREEH: In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity.
BRADY: Freeh was hired last year by Penn State's board of trustees. His team conducted over 430 interviews, starting just before Thanksgiving and concluding last Friday. Freeh says one of the most critical interviews was with janitors at the university. They said a colleague reported in 2000 that he saw Jerry Sandusky molesting a boy in a school locker room.
FREEH: The janitor who observed it said it's the worst thing he ever saw. He's a Korean War veteran. He said I've never seen anything like that. It makes me sick. He spoke to the other janitors. They were alarmed and shocked by it. But what did they do? They said we can't report this because we'll get fired.
BRADY: Freeh says this was an example of the culture at Penn State that allowed Jerry Sandusky's abuse to go unreported.
FREEH: They were afraid to take on the football program. They said the university would circle around it. It was like going against the president of the United States. If that's the culture on the bottom, you know, God help the culture at the top.
BRADY: For Penn State's culture, Freeh blames the people who hired him - the university's board of trustees. He says the 32-member body failed in its oversight of the school's senior officers. Karen Peetz is the chair of the board of trustees. She assumed that position after the scandal and had this response to Freeh's report.
KAREN PEETZ: We're horrified. We're saddened. We are - there are not enough superlative words to use.
BRADY: Peetz acknowledged the board's responsibility in the scandal as the university's highest governing body.
PEETZ: And what's important is that we now really get going on what needs to be done. We think that by taking the accountability that we just said that we own, that that's the first step.
BRADY: Among the next steps, says Peetz, is reviewing the 119 recommendations from Louis Freeh and considering them as the board's North Star for its work ahead. For the victims, this investigation is another vindication after Jerry Sandusky's conviction last month. They continue to seek justice through the civil courts now. Attorney Matt Casey is part of a team representing victims, including three who testified at the trial.
MATT CASEY: The case, after today, is no longer one simply of negligence, of ordinary negligence. It's one of out-and-out recklessness. And under the law, they are different, and reckless conduct is punishable by what are called punitive damages.
BRADY: With a case bolstered by Louis Freeh's 267-page report, Penn State, its leaders and others involved in this scandal could face legal claims from Jerry Sandusky's victims for years to come. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia.