We already suspected the involvement of three top-level Penn State University officials (fired President Graham Spanier; “retired” Senior VP of Finance and Business who also oversaw the university’s police force, Gary Schultz; and still out-on-administrative-leave Athletic Director, Tim Curley) in the cover-up of former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky’s long-time child abuse behavior. According to the 267-page independent investigative report prepared by ex-FBI Director Louie Freeh’s law firm, and released via the Internet this morning (See full version of The Freeh Report on Penn State), we can now confirm these three and add one more name to the list…………deceased head football coach Joe Paterno.
The Freeh Report is especially interesting in that the Penn State Board of Trustees actually authorized it, and they did NOT preview it or do any editing before it was released. The independence and total unbiasness of the report “appears” to have been held in check. Over 430 past or present PSU employees were interviewed, and an incredible 3.5 million emails and other internal documents were obtained and reviewed over the course of the 8-month investigation. Freeh and his investigators held back nothing in their findings, repeatedly slamming the university for its wrongdoings in the face of obvious child sexual abuse behavior exhibited time and time again by Sandusky. I’m sure the Paterno family, who all along have said that Joe did all that he was required to do, will minimize or even discredit the report. After all, they also said that Joe NEVER had any idea that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Didn’t anybody at Penn State think that taking numerous showers with young boys was a tad suspicious? They feel that their father was NEVER given the chance to tell his side of the story. True. But honestly, if Paterno were still alive today would we really care about whatever he had to say?
To me, one of the most profound findings of the report indicated that when then graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary in 2001 told Paterno what he saw and heard in the shower of the Lasch Football Building between Sandusky and a young boy, Paterno simply responded, “It’s my job to figure out what we want to do”. What we WANT to do? Are you kidding me? How about what we MUST do! This coming after a similar well-documented Sandusky campus shower incident three years earlier. (Coincidently, McQueary’s contract was allowed to expire this year, and he is no longer employed by the university). Just because the university had absolutely no policy in place to deal with the reporting of suspected child abuse (as also uncovered by the Freeh Report), that was no excuse for abandonment of using common sense, sound judgment, and taking immediate responsibility for the protection of children. Everybody……..including Joe Paterno…….. was obviously more concerned about preserving the institution of Penn State football above all else. Sadly, the Freeh Report found no evidence of JoePa vigorously demanding justice (like I was hoping for)……….just part of a group trying to obstruct it. What will be JoePa’s 46-year legacy now?…….will he continue to be honored, and will his statue remain outside Penn State’s 106,000-seat Beaver Stadium?
The perjury trials for Schultz and Curley are still to take place. You can see and read their internal emails and related personal notes as separate Exhibits in the Freeh Report. To say these internal emails and such are revealing is like saying Penn State produced a few All-American linebackers! Former President Spanier even went so far as to sue the university in May to try and get copies of his emails, which the state Attorney General’s office asked them NOT to provide. Spanier hasn’t been officially charged with anything, but seemingly should be given the Freeh Report findings. The timing and findings of the Freeh Report no doubt will greatly impact their trials; nonetheless as I’ve stated before I predict these court dealings will uncover even more scandalous details of wrongdoing and cover-up regarding Sandusky. Of course, these are only the big UNIVERSITY names. It remains my contention that many others within and throughout the Penn State “community” also played some role in the cover-up, and that includes at least a few high-ranking former and current State government officials!
A separate NCAA investigation has already begun, and other agency investigations on this matter will soon follow. PSU officials are being asked to address specific questions from the NCAA regarding institutional control and ethics policies. Could this all soon lead to “death” sanctions against the university and its football program? That’s difficult to say at this point. I sure hope new head coach Bill O’Brien has an escape clause in his contract.
Surprisingly, this chaos and disgrace doesn’t seem to have affected the level of donations to the university, which reached $208M (2nd most ever) from about 190,000 contributors over the recent fiscal year that ended in June. As an alumnus, I wonder if “Paterno State” has just become too big to fail to those that continue to feed it. One thing is for certain, the PSU football program motto “Success with Honor” will be questioned by ALL who view Penn State.
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