Penn State officials masked Sandusky child sex abuse case

By Justine Espersen

After eight months of investigation, former FBI Director Louis Freeh made it clear Thursday that Penn State University leaders, including former football coach Joe Paterno, covered up Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse allegations for 14 years.

These powerful men include Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier, and athletic director Tim Curley.

Paterno’s “61 years of excellent service to the university is now marred” by the Sandusky serial molestation scandal, says chairwoman Karen Peetz of Penn State’s board of trustees.

The Hall of Fame coach and other school officials “concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse” as they were concerned about receiving bad publicity.

“Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University – President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno – failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade,” the report stated. “These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities.”

Freeh was hired by university trustees to investigate what has now become one of biggest scandals in sports history. Freeh’s firm produced a 267-page 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. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

Officials had the opportunity to step in on the sexual assaults in both 1998 and 2001, according to Freeh.
“Even though they all knew about the 1998 incident, the best they could muster to protect Sandusky’s victim was to ask Sandusky not to bring his ‘guests’ into the Penn State facilities,” Freeh said, including that bad publicity would have upset donors and harmed the Penn State brand, according to Reuters.

Further allegations emerged in 2000 and 2001 as there were reports of Sandusky molesting boys in the locker room showers.

“Sandusky paraded children around, like trophies, he paraded children through the locker room, he was naked with children in the locker room he was seen by the janitor, he was seen by an assistant coach, It was known by Coach Paterno, by Mr. Spanier, by Mr. Curley, by Mr. Schultz…and they did nothing,” Thomas Kline said, who is a lawyer representing Victim 5 in the case.

Sandusky is awaiting sentencing for his conviction of 45 criminal counts on the abuse of 10 boys. This led to the dismissal on position of Paterno and Spainer while Curley and Schultz are anticipating trial on charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report abuse; they’ve pleaded not guilty, according to the Associated Press.

“The Board was unprepared to handle the crisis that occurred when Sandusky, Curley and Schultz were charged,” the report said. “This contributed significantly to its poor handling of the firing of Paterno, and the subsequent severe reaction by the Penn State community and the public to the Board’s oversight of the University and Paterno’s firing.”

Read the full Freeh report.

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