July 12th, 2012
08:59 AM ET

PSU officials concealed Sandusky's activities, probe says

An internal probe into the Penn State child sex abuse scandal found that top university officials, including former president Graham Spanier and then-head football coach Joe Paterno, concealed evidence of abuse by ex-assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

An effort to avoid bad publicity "is the most significant, but not the only, cause for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities," the investigation found.

Spanier and Paterno, as well as former university vice president Gary Schultz and ex-athletic director Tim Curley, participated in "an active decision to conceal" allegations against Sandusky, the probe's leader told reporters Thursday. Additionally, the report says the officials failed to inquire about the victims' well-being, even failing to try to identify a boy who allegedly was sexually assaulted in a Penn State shower in 2001.

Also, Penn State officials were poised to report that February 2001 sex abuse allegation, but they "changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the authorities" after Curley consulted with Paterno, the head of the probe, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, told reporters.

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The 267-page findings of the Penn State-funded internal review were released Thursday morning. The report focuses on what school officials knew about Sandusky's behavior. The scandal led some people to claim the school put its reputation ahead of protecting potential child victims.

A jury last month convicted Sandusky, 68, the Nittany Lions' former defensive coordinator, on multiple charges of sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years.

Here is a running log of the Thursday's developments:

[Updated at 1:57 p.m. ET] Around the time that Nike was announcing that it was changing the name of the Joe Paterno Child Development Center on Nike's campus in Beaverton, Oregon (see 1:46 p.m. entry), Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight released this statement:

“Other than my parents, my college coach, Bill Bowerman, was the biggest influence in my life. Bill Bowerman and Joe Paterno shared some great qualities. Throughout Joe Paterno’s career, he strived to put young athletes in a position to succeed and win in sport but most importantly in life. Joe influenced thousands of young men to become better leaders, fathers and husbands.

"According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains.”

– Phil Knight, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, NIKE, Inc.

[Updated at 1:46 p.m. ET] The president of Nike Inc. has announced that the firm is changing the name of the Joe Paterno Child Development Center, a child care center at the Nike headquarters near Beaverton, Oregon, in the light of the Freeh report.

"I have been deeply saddened by the news coming out of this investigation at Penn State," Mark Parker said.

[Updated at 11:52 a.m. ET] As promised, here is the link to the Paterno family's full statement.

[Updated at 11:38 a.m. ET] Another key point from the Paterno family statement: "We have said from the beginning that Joe Paterno did not know Jerry Sandusky was a child predator. Moreover, Joe Paterno never interfered with any investigation. He immediately and accurately reported the incident he was told about in 2001."

A link to the full statement is coming.

[Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET] Paterno's relatives say that although they will need some time to read the report before they can comment in depth, they accept the criticism that Paterno could have done more, but "at the same time, Joe Paterno and everyone else knew that Sandusky had been repeatedly investigated by authorities who approved his multiple adoptions and foster children."

"Joe Paterno mistakenly believed that investigators, law enforcement officials, University leaders and others would properly and fully investigate any issue and proceed as the facts dictated," Paterno's family said in a statement.

The statement adds: "Joe Paterno wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he regretted them. He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. To think, however, that he would have protected Jerry Sandusky to avoid bad publicity is simply not realistic. If Joe Paterno had understood what Sandusky was, a fear of bad publicity would not have factored into his actions."

[Updated at 11:21 a.m. ET] In a statement released about 90 minutes ago, shortly after the Freeh report was released, the Penn State leadership and the Board of Trustees said that "we want to ensure we are giving the report careful scrutiny and consideration before making any announcements or recommendations."

"We are convening an internal team comprising the Board of Trustees, university administration and our legal counsel to begin analyzing the report and digesting Judge Freeh’s findings," the statement reads.

[Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET] Former Penn State star linebacker LaVar Arrington, who publicly defended Sandusky last year before apologizing once more details surfaced, has posted on Twitter that he's disappointed "in coach Paterno's judgement based off the info" in Thursday's report.

Another tweet from Arrington:

[Updated at 10:44 a.m. ET] The NCAA has reacted to the report, saying Penn State "now needs to respond" to four key questions that will help the NCAA decide whether it needs to take action:

“Like everyone else, we are reviewing the final report for the first time today," NCAA Vice President Bob Williams said. "As (NCAA) President Emmert wrote in his November 17 letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson and reiterated this week, the university has four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies, to which it now needs to respond. Penn State’s response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action. We expect Penn State’s continued cooperation in our examination of these issues.”

[Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET] Freeh tells reporters there was an active agreement among top university officials to conceal sexual abuse by Sandusky.

"There are more red flags here than you can count," Freeh said, adding that the attacks occurred just "steps away" from where Paterno worked in the university's Lasch Building.

Freeh said he's not singling Paterno out. But he said Paterno is one of four Penn State leaders who evidence shows were "an integral part of an active decision to conceal" accusations against Sandusky.

Freeh said he wishes he had an opportunity to speak to Paterno, who died after a cancer battle in January, and show him the evidence, including e-mails and notes from meetings.

[Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET] CNN legal analyst Paul Callan says the report will be "a road map" for civil attorneys suing Penn State.

"Here you have (Penn State's) own investigator saying .. higher-ups aided and abetted" Sandusky, Callan said.

Callan says the report shows that after 1999, when Penn State officials knew of a 1998 investigation of Sandusky, they gave him emeritus status ... and allowed him to go on with his charity for disadvantaged children, Second Mile.

[Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET] Freeh tells reporters that his team conducted 430 interviews, and found that janitors who were made aware of Sandusky's apparent abuse of a child "were afraid of being fired over reporting a powerful football coach."

[Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET] Freeh, reading from his statement at a press conference, says that besides the 2001 shower allegation (see 10:16 a.m. entry), Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also knew about a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky relating to suspected sexual misconduct with a boy in a Penn State football shower.

"Again, they showed no concern about that victim," Freeh said. "The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s. At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building (the building that includes the football locker room showers). ... Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also failed to alert the Board of Trustees about the 1998 investigation or take any further action against Mr. Sandusky. None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity."

[Updated at 10:18 a.m. ET] The internal probe found that prior to May 1998, "several staff members and football coaches regularly observed Sandusky showering with young boys," but "none of the individuals interviewed notified their superiors of this behavior."

The report also found that "University Police and the Department of Public Welfare responded promptly to the report by a young boy's mother of a possible sexual assault by Sandusky" in 1998, and that top university officials were "kept informed of the investigation."

[Updated at 10:16 a.m. ET] At his news conference, Freeh reads from a statement, and zeros in on a sexual abuse allegation that came to Penn State officials' attention in 2001 (this was an incident in which a Penn State football graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, allegedly claimed to have seen Sandusky sexually abuse a child in a Penn State shower that year):

"In critical written correspondence that we uncovered on March 20 of this year, we see evidence of their proposed plan of action in February 2001 that included reporting allegations about Sandusky to the authorities.

"After Mr. Curley consulted with Mr. Paterno, however, they changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the
authorities. Their failure to protect the February 9, 2001 child victim, or make attempts to identify him, created a dangerous situation for other unknown, unsuspecting young boys who were lured to the Penn State campus and football games by Sandusky and victimized repeatedly by him.

"Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity, about what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001.

"The stated reasons by ... Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley for not taking action to identify the victim and for not reporting Sandusky to the police or Child Welfare are:

"(1) Through counsel, Messrs. Curley and Schultz have stated that the “humane” thing to do in 2001 was to carefully and responsibly assess the best way to handle vague but troubling allegations.

"(2) Mr. Paterno said that “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

"(3) Mr. Spanier told the Special Investigative Counsel that he was never told by anyone that the February 2001 incident in the shower involved the sexual abuse of a child but only “horsing around.” He further stated that he never asked what “horsing around” by Sandusky entailed.

"Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University - ... Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large.

"Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky’s victims."

[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET] Freeh, the former FBI director who led the Penn State-funded probe, is addressing the media. Updates shortly.

[Updated at 10 a.m. ET] Here are what the report calls "key findings" relating to Penn State officials' response to a 1998 sexual abuse allegation:

• Before May 1998, several staff members and football coaches regularly observed Sandusky showering with young boys in the Lasch Building (now the East Area Locker Building or “Old Lasch”). None of the individuals interviewed notified their superiors of this behavior.

• University Police and the Department of Public Welfare responded promptly to the report by a young boy’s mother of a possible sexual assault by Sandusky in the Lasch Building on May 3, 1998.

• While no information indicates University leaders interfered with the investigation, Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley were kept informed of the investigation.

• On May 5, 1998, Schultz’s notes about the incident state: “Is this opening of pandora’s
box? Other children?"

• On June 9, 1998, Schultz emails Spanier and Curley: “I think the matter has been appropriately investigated and I hope it is now behind us [emphasis added].”

• Detective recalled interviewing Sandusky in the Lasch Building so as not to put him “on the defensive.” The detective advised Sandusky not to shower with any child and Sandusky said he “wouldn’t.”At the conclusion of the investigation, no charges were filed against Sandusky.

• Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley did not even speak to Sandusky about his conduct on May 3, 1998 in the Lasch Building.

• Despite their knowledge of the criminal investigation of Sandusky, Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley took no action to limit Sandusky’s access to Penn State facilities or took any measures to protect children on their campuses.

• Spanier and Schultz failed to report the 1998 investigation to the Board of Trustees.

• Sandusky was convicted of several assaults that occurred after the 1998 incident. Some of these sexual assaults against young boys might have been prevented had Sandusky been prohibited from bringing minors to University facilities and University football bowl
games.

[Updated at 9:47 a.m. ET] The report says that in May 2011, Spanier and the school's general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, minimized the seriousness of a child sex abuse investigation into Sandusky during a Board of Trustees meeting "by not fully describing the nature of the allegations or raising the issue of possible negative impact to the University."

The board also did not make "reasonable inquiry" about the investigation, the report says.

[Updated at 9:43 a.m. ET] The Board of Trustees' dismissal of Paterno in November 2011 "was poorly handled, as were the Board's communications with public," the report says.

Penn State is scheduled to hold a 3:30 p.m. ET news conference Thursday regarding the internal review.

[Updated at 9:39 a.m. ET] The report highlights Penn State's decision to allow Sandusky to retire in 1999 "as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy," after allegations in 1998, "essentially granted him license to bring boys to campus facilities for 'grooming' as targets for his assaults."

[Updated at 9:25 a.m. ET] More from the findings: “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.”

“These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001. ...

“These individuals, unchecked by the Board of Trustees that did not perform its oversight duties, empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access to the University’s facilities and affiliation with the University’s prominent football program.”

[Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET] From the findings: “The most saddening finding by the by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims. As the Grand Jury similarly noted in its presentment, there was no “attempt to investigate, to identify Victim 2, or to protect that child or any others from similar conduct except as related to preventing its re-occurrence on University property.”

[Updated at 9:21 a.m. ET] The top leadership at Penn State University including then-President Graham Spanier and then-head football coach Joe Paterno concealed Sandusky's activities from the public and the university community to "avoid the consequences of bad publicity," according to the internal review.

[Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET] Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who led the Penn State-funded probe, said Thursday that former athletic director Tim Curley consulted with former head coach Joe Paterno following sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky and "they changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the authorities."

[Updated at 9:05 a.m. ET] The probe's leader, former FBI director Louis Freeh, has released a statement saying that the probe's "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.

"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," Freeh said. "Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest."

These are Freeh's remarks accompanying the report. CNN has yet to examine the entirety of the report itself.

More details:

The Sandusky case led to the November 2011 dismissal of legendary head coach Joe Paterno, as well as the ouster of the university's longtime president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley.

Freeh's internal investigation is separate from criminal investigations that have resulted in Sandusky's conviction and charges against former athletic director Tim Curley and former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz.

Painful chapter closes with Sandusky’s conviction for child sex abuse

Sandusky: In his own words

Sandusky trial: How the case unfolded

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Filed under: College football • Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Pennsylvania • Sports
soundoff (542 Responses)
  1. chieatfetus

    I would never encourage anyone to attend Penn State for anything, not even for an education. There are plenty of other 'better schools' out there.

    July 13, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dr. Pat

    It is not just one university with the problem. These gay attacks on children must be reported and stopped everywhere!

    July 13, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Steve Lyons

    So when will Spainer be brought up on charges and prosecuted for aiding and abetting this extended criminal activity by a Penn State employee?

    July 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
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