Thursday, July 19

A Letter to Dr. Erickson from Ray Blehar Penn State Honors Graduate Smeal MBA Class of 2008


Mr Blehar -  went back to PSU after 23 years in the US Government.  His background includes roles as a deputy inspector general, chief of financial management control, deputy director for quality, and volunteer work as an examiner for the U.S. Senate Productivity and Maryland Quality Awards program. He has written and evaluated many reports in his career.  
Ray wrote to me and agreed to become a contributor to the Second Mile Sandusky Scandal website so we can all look forward to his contributions as time passes 
I'm enclosing an e-mail I wrote to the President of Penn State in hopes they will take on some of these points when they address the Freeh Report.   I had success with them when I wrote them in the immediate aftermath of the scandal.  You will see some familiar themes in the e-mail.  I hope the PSU President grows some balls and takes on Freeh.
Ray has asked me to post his letter to Dr. Erickson here and on BSD. I hope you find his letter as informative and challenging to the President and BOT as I do. 
Dear President Erickson,
Your message of July 18th in response to the Freeh Report put forth some of the future realities for Penn State:
1) This is not the end of the process, nor will it be the end of a number of investigations or inquiries into the University;
2) Time to heal. Time to comprehend. Time to trust. Time to transform. Time to regain what has been lost, and time to move forward; and
3) The world is watching and they are anxious for expedient responses.
It is how PSU prepares for these realities that is going to count most. We have now undergone two media feeding frenzies, the first in November of 2011 and the second in response to the Freeh Report. In both cases, PSU was unprepared with a statement of its own that could slow down or stop the media narrative, let alone get control of the narrative. In the first instance, the Penn State Board of Trustees (BOT) did the worst thing possible, and made statements that confirmed the media's narrative that PSU is a football factory that vested its power in one person (Joe Paterno). This admission remains an affront to PSU alumni, who are proud of PSU because of the quality of its academics and the education we received, its #1 ranking for corporate recruiting by the Wall Street Journal, its great fund raising efforts for THON and outreach to Special Olympics, and in the outstanding graduation rates of its student athletes. Under the intense pressure of the media, the BOT completely ignored these facts and did not defend our fine university against a false narrative provided by the media and readily consumed by the public.
I have read that you are preparing a response to the Freeh Report. As you prepare the response, I ask that you think about what you are going to say as the media will report it. Those things will be reported in fifteen second sound bites and in the news crawlers that run across the bottom of our television screens. The message must be clear, it must be strong, and it must help us regain what we have lost. 
I have spent over 20 years of my career as an analyst, assistant inspector general, director of quality, and director of financial controls and have much familiarity with writing, analyzing, and responding inspector general inspections and audits, financial audits, and reviews from government oversight. In fact, I had a key role in analyzing the Robb-Silberman Commission Report on Weapons of Mass Destruction and determining my organizations response to the report recommendations on improving the quality of our intelligence reporting.
In responding the the Freeh Report, PSU should show respect for the victims and give credence to the administrative recommendations offered by the Freeh Report, it also must call out the flaws in the report , the inaccuracies of Mr. Freeh's press conference comments, and that the report, while containing some facts, is certainly not a full accounting of the facts. The Freeh report also takes liberties with hearsay evidence provided by witnesses and treats the hearsay as if it were direct quotes. Finally, Mr. Freeh assigns motives and feelings to the officials involved in the 1998 and 2001 incidents without ever interviewing those officials. Without the testimony of Curley, Schultz, Spanier, police chief Harmon, and others, this report is incomplete.
I humbly submit the following talking points for inclusion in your response to the Freeh Report.
1. The Freeh Report provided clear evidence that the Penn State BOT failed to perform its oversight role and vested to much decision making authority with the President. In the critical time between the announcement of the grand jury proceedings of the Sandusky Scandal and the release of the grand jury presentment, the PSU BOT failed to ask the right questions and as a result, PSU was not prepared to address the many allegations in the report, and particularly the false allegation of a rape occurring on our campus. The damage caused to PSU by that single false allegation is immeasurable and, unfortunately, Mr. Freeh joined in doing more damage when he made the misstatement that "the rapes of these boys occurred in the Lasch Building" during his press conference.
2. Mr. Freeh stated that PSU officials failed to take any action to in the Sandusky case to avoid bad publicity. We do not believe the evidence gathered supports this claim, as it is soley based on hearsay from the attorney of Second Mile. In this instance the Second Mile attorney is relaying information from a discussion he had with the Second Mile CEO, who stated that Tim Curley told him to avoid publicity. Quite frankly, this is a case of double hearsay. And it is also incredible that it never dawned on Mr. Freeh that Second Mile failed to report this incident because it was avoiding bad publicity to preserve its own livlihood.
3. Mr. Freeh states that Tim Curley, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz had knowledge of a 1998 investigation involving sexual misconduct by Jerry Sandusky is not supported by the evidence. Mr. Freeh produced hand written notes by Gary Schultz that relate to the investigation, but Mr. Freeh states he cannot determine who was present when these notes were taken or if the information was shared. There is no direct evidence of Mr. Curley, Mr. Paterno, or Dr. Spanier ever being informed of the details of the 1998 investigation. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Paterno followed this investigation closely or received updates, as Mr. Freeh stated. The report stated that it could not find any evidence to confirm that Mr. Paterno was ever informed of the conclusion of the investigation. The report also could not produce evidence that Mr. Paterno got a single update. Dr. Spanier stated he remembers the incident as a "vague reference with no individual mentioned." What Mr. Freeh has done amounts to throwing unrelated documents and evidence into a box, then stating the evidence is related because it is in the same box.
What is truly incredible about this concoction devised by Mr. Freeh is that as a former law enforcement official, he should be aware that crimes involving juvenile victims are conducted in a confidential manner. Given this scenario, it is more likely that the information stopped with Gary Schultz and was not shared with other PSU officials. This is perfectly consistent with the statements of Detective Schreffler, who stated that "Old Main" did not get involved in this investigation. And it would be perfectly consistent with Spanier's lack of recall. And it would be perfectly consistent with the absence of details in the e-mails from Harmon to Schultz that were relayed to Curley. And it would be consistent with the grand jury testimony of Joe Paterno, who stated he was not aware of any allegations of sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky prior to 2001.
4. Mr. Freeh downplays the significance of Tim Curley informing Second Mile that Jerry Sandusky showered with a boy. Mr. Freeh obviously did not familiarize himself with the qualifications of the former Second Mile CEO, who is a licensed PhD in psychology and an individual who should have had a heightened sense of awareness for child abuse -- not only because of his profession but because he is the director of a children's charity. I also feel it is necessary to remind everyone of this fact -- Jerry Sandusky worked for Second Mile in 2001. He was not a PSU employee. Under the Pennsylvania child abuse reporting statutes, the employer who receives a report of abuse involving children under their care are mandated to report it to the authorities. Let the record state that a Penn State official reported an incident of suspected child abuse of a child in the care of Jerry Sandusky - a Second Mile employee who mentored children - to the CEO of Second Mile, who had a responsibility to report this abuse to authorities.
5. Freeh states: "Many, many witnesses we spoke to described Paterno as one the most powerful leaders on campus," Freeh said. "He could have stopped it."
Repeating what people believe to be true and what is the truth are two different things. Freeh provides no evidence (other than opinion) that demonstrates Joe Paterno was in a position of power - or had a leading role - in the decisions regarding Sandusky's actions in 1998 and 2001 or in Sandusky's retirement. a) Freeh references a number of meetings and discussions between Curley, Schultz, and Spanier, yet it is mind-boggling that the most powerful man on campus is not invited to the meetings nor can Freeh provide any credible evidence that Paterno played a role in the decision-making process. b) The report provided contradictory evidence to Paterno's power on campus when it reports that Detective Schreffler received no interference from the administration in the 1998 investigation of Sandusky. Wouldn't it make sense that Detective Schreffler and the police force would have immediately informed Paterno of the outcome of the investigation, given his importance on campus? Yet, Freeh cannot even uncover a piece of evidence indicated Paterno was informed of the outcome. c) The Freeh Report produces scant evidence - in the form of handwritten margin notes - that Paterno had a role in determining Sandusky's retirement package. In fact, the evidence - in the form of correspondence - clearly shows that "one of the most powerful" men on campus was rarely consulted during the negotiations of the retirement of his top assistant coach. d) The Freeh Report ignores the Washington Post interview (used in another instance to imply Paterno was untruthful about 1998) where Joe Paterno describes himself as "in a dilemma" about Sandusky because he was no longer Jerry's boss. While this interview was conducted long after the 2001 incident, it provides information that provides how Joe viewed his role in decision making outside of the football program.
6. Regarding the aftermath of the 1998 incidence, Freeh states: "Nothing in the record indicates that Curley and Schultz discussed whether Paterno should restrict or terminate Sandusky's uses of the facilities or that Paterno conveyed any such expectations to Sandusky."
This suggested course of action only makes sense if PSU officials have a crystal ball and can see the future. Unfortunately, the future is not known and the decision about Sandusky's access to facilities was based on: a) in 1999, Sandusky was fully employed by PSU as the Defensive Coordinator of the football team and needed access to facilities to perform his job; b) that Sandusky was not charged with a crime and that the Department of Welfare's investigation concluded in that child abuse was unfounded; c) up until that incident, PSU had no reason to believe that Sandusky's interactions with children were anything but altruistic; and d) that providing the Second Mile children with access to the PSU football facilities and football team provided many with a positive influence on their lives.
7. The Freeh report condemns PSU for allowing "Sandusky to retire in 1999, not as a suspected child predator, as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy..."
At the time of Sandusky's retirement, PSU officials were aware of one unfounded allegation of child abuse against Sandusky. The suggestion that they would somehow change his retirement package and access based unfounded allegation of child abuse, weighed against 30 years of service to PSU is unfathomable. Again, Mr. Freeh assumes that PSU officials have the power to look into the future.
It is time to regain what has been lost. It's time to take control of the media narrative.
The world is watching.
Respectfully,
Raymond M. Blehar
  • Honors Graduate, Smeal MBA Class of 2008
  • Sparks Circle Member, Presidents Club
  • Lifetime Member, Penn State Alumni Association
  • Charter Member, Mount Nittany Club
  • Honorary Coach Member, Nittany Lion Club

31 comments:

  1. Ray(and aurabass): Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work you are doing. As a proud and resolute Penn Stater, I know much of the outside world views me as a cultist and apologist. No matter, as the Old Man said in November, we just want the truth. I know that much of the world will have moved on when all is known, but it is incredibly important to continue this search until every stone is uncovered. JVP would have demanded no less, and I believe we have an obligation to do this. Perhaps in the future someone like Posnanski can write an update or a second volume once the dust settles. Paterno had a deep affection and understanding of history; his place in it should be accurately depicted.

    Thank you again, you are helping a lot of us keep our faith in humanity.

    Bob Krieger '80

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    1. Thank you Bob - I appreciate your support and comments

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  2. Why is the alumni can so clearly see what the admin at Penn State can not? As Bob said in his repsonse, thank you for helping us keep our faith in humanity, although mine slips further everyday.

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    1. Thank you Amy - your support and comments are appreciated

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  3. I am suspicious of the administration and BOD. Throughout this crisis their responses have been questionable. In their official response to questions of Paterno's dismissal, it was stated that Joe did not "take a leadership role" in the Sandusky affair. Coincidentally, just what the media had been saying. Now the Freeh report, which offers very few facts and a lot of speculation and innuendoes. I would be surprised if the board did not know ahead of time the content and style of the report. While the report did have some negative information about the board's conduct during the years of the incidents, it primarily criticized Paterno, Schultz, Curley, and Spanier. That they had not reported information to the board but had acted independently. I think that this is the picture the board wants to paint. If it means throwing some people under the bus, they will do it. Possibly they think it might help in the future with respect to lawsuits as well. So I will be surprised if PSU comes back with any strong objections to the Freeh report. Mr. Blehar should also send his letter to the attorneys working on the response to the Freeh report from the Paterno family. I think that response has the most chance of being a good rebuttal.

    Don Borio '70

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    1. Unfortunately, Don, I think you have it exactly right. The BOT got exactly the report and performance from Freeh that they paid for because they knew it would "sell" and shield themselves from further scrutiny. And if this IS the case, it makes you wonder what truth is really being hidden. I'd be willing to bet that we'll never find out and the pathetic responses that have been coming from PSU "leadership" will continue as is. Though I hope I'm wrong...

      Jeff Brown '87

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  4. Nicely written treatise. One additional area not discussed anywhere, as far as I know, are the credentials and background of the primary investigator, Mr. Freeh. Mr. Freeh was the FBI Director and a US district court judge and now has his own investigative firm. Mr. Freeh must have an extremely acute political acumen in order to secure positions as FBI director and district court judge. In addition, his current business success is predicated on public perception of him. With the unabated (read lack of BOT involvement) media firestorm, Mr. Freeh certainly was primarily interested in making himself look good and obtaining as much publicity as possible. A completely factual, unbiased report with no conjecture or speculation would have gone over like a lead ballon with the media and likely subjected Mr. Freeh to ridicule. His political nature could not allow that to happen.

    One final thought... The missteps of the BOT have been many and egregious. Not the least of which is the shoot from the hip hiring of Mr. Freeh's firm and allowing him to publish whatever he wanted without any validation or requirement to only produce the facts. If I would have submitted a document such as his for my PhD dissertation, I would have been laughed out of the building.

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    1. Frankie,
      Aurabass called Freeh the disgraced former FBI Director who presided over the FBI at the time Robert Hansen was found to be one of the worst spies in US history.

      I'm not one to personally attack people or shoot the messenger because so much of that happens INSTEAD of arguing a position on the merits. However, I was puzzled on the PSU BOT's decision to use Freeh, not only because of the Hansen incident, but because of the other incidents that happened under his watch like Ruby Ridge, Waco (Branch Dividian Cult), and, most importantly, the leaking of the identity of the Olympic Park bomber (which turned out to be the wrong guy and ruined a man's like). Gee, now that I wrote that, I realized why the BOT hired Freeh.

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    2. Freeh was also Director while the 9/11 terrorists were doing their flight training in the US in the run up to the WTC attack. He left the office 71 days prior but the information from FBI agents in Minneapolis I believe it was on the flight school there and the men who were using it came to him.

      He also was subject of a Congressional investigation for his trusteeship of MF Global where he withheld documents and asked for big bonuses for the failed MF Global execs.

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    3. More about the disgraced Mr. Freeh here:

      http://lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson344.html

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    4. Andrew Class of 1998July 25, 2012 at 8:30 AM

      Are you the author of this letter? I work for the Elizabethtown Advocate. My editor, Dan Robrish, would like to get your permission to run a copy of this letter in his paper. You can contact him at editor@etownpa.com or me at uniphilly@hotmail.com. Thank you for everything.

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    5. I passed this request to Ray a few minutes ago Andrew

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  5. Thank you for your work to combat the misinformation that has occurred throughout the scandal. We devoted most of the two hours of our weekly radio to the Freeh report. Lou Prato was kind enough to join us for the discussion and offered a great deal of valuable insight into the report, and the way it is handled. Feel free to link to the show or use the information as you see fit. Keep up the good work of exposing this crook, and those that are seeking to obscure the truth in this matter. Please contact us if there is anything you'd like us to get out.

    http://www.goonshowpsu.com/2012/07/19/07-17-goon-show-with-lou-prato-freeh-report-rebuttal/

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    1. Thanks for the information about your show. A link has been posted on the front page. Exchanging links is a great way to increased your listeners and our readers. So anything you can do with that will be most appreciated.

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    2. Thank you. I linked to you and a couple of other articles I've found informative. Great work in your efforts, hopefully if enough level headed people can speak in an educated fashion on the matter as opposed to rushing to judgement in order to sell advertising, we can get the facts out.

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  6. AWESOME work!!! thank you!!! I might have added PS - I hope you didn't sign that 6.5 mil check to him yet!!

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  7. I commend you on your very concise letter. Unfortunately we as a Penn State community will NEVER here any direct response to this letter. How sad it has become, when one group of people can influence the actions of an organization that will forever divide our great university. President Erickson implied he would seek input from, among other groups, the alumni, I am an alumni and yet my opinion has never been requested. You speak for many more alumni than you shall ever know. I am wondering still, the process for removing the entire BOT and the president. These very entities are required to do what is best for the university and also for the alumni. I contend they are doing neither and are only associating blame to a man who can no longer explain what has been erroneously reported of him. I look foward to the followup investigations which will without a doubt be much more "independent". While at it, why has an investigation into our govenors role in this entire sad situation not been convened?
    Please keep up the pressure and never let us forget.... We Are......PENN STATE!!!

    Chris Snyder 1997 alumna

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  8. Was to be HEAR not HERE

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  9. Was to be HEAR not HERE

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  10. J. Bennett Class of 2012July 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    I am proud to say that I am, and always will be, a Penn Stater. Yet I am ashamed to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief on my graduation day two months ago. This year made Happy Valley a difficult place to be. We watched our empire fall. Thankfully much of the attention has gone to the victims, where it belongs. However, everyone refuses to listen to the voices of the students and alumni. Thank you for this letter.

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  11. Thanks Ray and Aurabass. Your stuff is spot on. It is amazing all of these conclusions have been made and punishments handed out without the main players being able to say one word in their own defense. It is disgusting. Our country is now officially as bad as the countries we look down our noses at who convict defendants without a fair trial or the opportunity to utter one explanation of their actions.

    Brian Diehl '02

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  12. Andrew Schoenberger Class of 1998July 25, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    I'm a 1998 graduate from Penn State. I work for a local newspaper that wants to get permission to rerun this letter. Does anyone know how to get in touch with Mr. Blehar? I"m fed up with the "same as usual" media attempts to mislead the public. They will try stop us at every turn but we can't give up. Thanks for the help and it's great to see the support. We have to force action to create laws to protect victims of criminals like Sandusky and the victims of the media and the irresponsibility of our leaders.

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    1. I passed your request to Ray a few minutes ago Andrew

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  13. As a small town reporter, I read the report - and I believe I'm one of the few in the media scene who actually went over each word - My first thought was how incomplete and shoddy the investigation was, my second was how much hearsay was used instead of fact, and my third was how many unfounded conclusions within the report, were used to bolster a shaky foundation of logic. If I were the Paterno family, I'd be considering legal action against the authors.

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    1. The Paterno Family has hired an attorney to do just that Runkster.

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  14. It seems to me Mr. Freeh and his consulting company relied heavily on the opinions of the media to slander and libel Joe Paterno and his family. For that, PSU paid 6.5 million for half-truths, conjecture and hyperbole.

    The NCAA (National Coalition Abasement Authority) also decreed the largest punitive fine of $60 million for non-NCAA violations is to be paid into an endowment fund for external programs dealing with child sex abuse. Did the NCAA do their own investigation into rules violations as required by their charter (see: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/enforcement/process/investigations )? No they didn't.

    They chose to defer to the Freeh report (see article: http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2012-07-23/ncaa-imposes-sanctions-penn-st ) "...NCAA determined traditional investigative proceedings would be redundant and unnecessary."

    Who will ultimately pay for all of this? The students certainly but also the taxpayers which is akin to state governments issuing and enforcing a bill of attainder to punish individuals without benefit of due process.

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  15. Freeh Report (1) :
    Corrected text: “We never had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Paterno, but he did say what he told McQueary on February 10, 2001 when McQueary reported what he saw Sandusky doing in the shower the night before: ‘You did what you had to do. It is my job now to figure out what we want to do.’”

    This next sentence is a comment inserted by Judge Freeh in the report and repeated in his press conference: “Why would anyone have to figure out what had to be done in these circumstances?”

    Paterno’s Grand Jury Testimony (2):
    Q: “Did you tell Mike McQueary at that time what you were going to do with that information that he had provided to you?”
    Mr. Paterno: “I don’t know whether I was specific or not. I did tell Mike, Mike, you did what was right; you told me. Even though Jerry does not work for the football staff any longer, I would refer his concerns to the right people.”

    What the Freeh Report states Paterno said: “You did what you had to do. It is my job now to figure out what we want to do.”

    What was Paterno’s sworn grand jury testimony: “Mike, you did what was right; you told me. Even though Jerry does not work for the football staff any longer, I would refer his concerns to the right people.”

    It appears Judge Freeh intentionally misquoted Paterno’s sworn testimony in order to fit a narrative that is illustrated by his inserted comment.


    (1) http://www.centredaily.com/2012/07/25/3272089/corrections-to-freeh-report-put.html
    (2) http://sportsbybrooks.com/transcript-joe-paterno-grand-jury-testimony-29933

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    1. Yes, Freeh skewed his report to paint Joe Paterno negatively, as if he was building a case for the media to wrongfully condemn Paterno instead of just reporting the facts to the board of trustees.

      On page 23 of the report, Freeh documented Paterno's remark, "did not want to interfere with their weekends", suggesting Paterno was dragging his feet when in fact he told his boss (Curley, AD) the very next day, Sunday.

      Dr. Jonathan Dranov's testimony was never mentioned in the Freeh report because it clearly conflicted with what McQueary told the court during the trial (see: http://onwardstate.com/2012/06/20/day-7/ and here http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/12/another_version_of_mike_mcquea.html ). It was also not recorded in the summary of the November 5, 2011 presentment that was downloaded by the public. Dranov was a personal friend of McQueary's father and was present when McQueary told his father what he witnessed Sandusky doing in the shower on the PSU campus.

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  16. Dear Mr. Blehar, I wish to thank you for your concise letter and to the effort in writing Dr. Erickson. Having made PSU my choice for graduate school, I was austounded by the Freeh report. It broke my heart to listen to Louis Freeh. Rampant with opinion, and skewd references,I could not believe the BoT could accept a document that would not be accepted as a fulfillment of a class assignment, in any program at PSU. Having little to no validity as you pointed out, I can only hope your letter opens the eyes of Erickson, the BoT, and those around the world suffering from tunnell vison. It is my sincere wish your letter is published in every major paper in this country. Thank you, again. Sincerely,

    Deborah D. George

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    1. Deborah,
      Best of luck in graduate school. I was on campus for my MBA from 2006 to 2008 -- two of the best years of my life.

      This is still Penn State.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu7X6cQ_NPc

      Enjoy.

      Ray

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