Sunday, February 16

The PSU Board of Trustees Role in the Public Lynching of Penn State (Part 2)

The PSU BOT used a combination of lies, half-truths, and deceptions to assist in the public lynching of Penn State.

By
Ray Blehar

The story so far:  The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG), the Penn State Board of Trustees (PSU BOT), and Louis Freeh utilized a combination of deception, evidence suppression, and evidence tampering to accuse Penn State officials of enabling Sandusky’s crimes.  

Louis Freeh, who was identified and recommended by Governor Corbett to conduct the “independent” investigation at PSU, held a press conference where he announced to the world it was “reasonable to conclude” that PSU officials concealed Sandusky’s crimes from the public and implied that the men had obstructed justice. 

The NCAA used the Freeh Report to levy unprecedented sanctions on the PSU football program and to indict the University and everyone associated with it as a culture that put more value on football than on the welfare of children.   

PSU statements and actions at every step of the scandal reinforced the OAG’s narrative of a cover-up that was used by Louis Freeh and the NCAA.  The media not only went along, but took steps to ensure the narrative went unchallenged.

The media’s behavior in the Sandusky case and several other cases followed a rather disturbing pattern of rarely questioning the decisions of prosecutors in high profile cases.  This happened in the Duke Lacrosse case and in the Olympic Park bombing case, where innocent people had their reputations destroyed when the media assumed guilt before all the facts were known.  In the Sandusky scandal, the media assumed that Curley, Schultz, and Spanier (a.k.a., the PSU Three) were/are guilty based upon two one-sided prosecutorial documents -- known as presentments.

Additionally, the media simply went along with prosecutors in the cases of Bernie Fine (Syracuse), Jameis Winston (Florida State) and Brendan Gibbons (Michigan).  In each of those cases, there was far more damning evidence (e.g., audio tapes, semen/DNA evidence, and rape kits)  than was presented against the PSU Three, but there was no story or media firestorm.   

Another common practice of today’s media is to tamp down or attempt to discredit anything that challenges the narrative that they believe.  For example, when the Paterno report was released in February 2013, it was called self-serving because the family paid consultants for their reports and was criticized because it didn’t contain a “smoking gun.” 

Freeh Report: No smoking guns.
Well, if that is the standard, then why is the Freeh Report given so much credence?  It too was purchased – Freeh was the BOT’s client – and it certainly contained no “smoking guns.”  At best, the Freeh Report contained a few empty shell casings in the form of some non-specific e-mails.  But Freeh’s report supported the current narrative and also fed the media a story during a lull in the news cycle.


The Conspiracy of Silence presentment, which charged Graham Spanier with perjury, conspiracy and obstruction, and failure to report (and added similar charges for Curley and Schultz) didn’t get nearly the play in the media as the original November 2011 Sandusky presentment for a number of reasons.  First, it was overshadowed by news of the impending Presidential election and, in Pennsylvania, the race for the Attorney General.  Next, it didn’t contain explosive/inflammatory language about children being raped.   Third, it was a somewhat bland document that really didn’t contain any “new” information – some people referred to it as “The Freeh Report: Lite.”  

As a result, I suspect few in the media actually read the Conspiracy of Silence presentment – or, if they did, they took no time to analyze the allegations.   Almost nothing in the Conspiracy of Silence presentment comes close to meeting the bar of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.  

If the Conspiracy of Silence case ever goes to trial, and there are dismissals or acquittals down the road, Corbett and his cohorts could claim they were merely acquittals on “technicalities.”  Or they would claim that “not guilty” verdicts did not prove the men were innocent, only that the PSU Three got rid of enough evidence that they couldn’t prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  In short, an acquittal would be painted to mean nothing and the media would undoubtedly report it exactly that way.   

When the Conspiracy of Silence was released in November 2012, the media had already concluded the guilt of Penn State officials and that conclusion was largely aided by the communications that emanated from Old Main itself. 

The public lynching had been underway for an entire year.

FRAZIER: “I don’t care if they are acquitted”

No one stated the public lynching strategy more clearly that PSU BOT member, Kenneth Frazier, who (in March 2013) remarked:

We are not subject to the criminal beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard …we can take corrective actions without any need to resort to the so-called due process, reasonable doubt standard.  I don’t care if they are acquitted.”





Of course, Frazier didn’t care.  He and his cohorts on the BOT worked hard for over a year to
promote the false narrative of PSU officials enabling Sandusky’s crimes.  And the way they went about it was - more often than not - under the false pretense of PSU’s concern for the child victims.

While the majority of the public believed that PSU’s officials were guilty from the outset, the PSU BOT did everything to confirm and nothing to dispel those beliefs. 

If you polled the public today, most would probably say that PSU’s culpability for Sandusky has been reinforced by PSU’s numerous public statements about its willingness to assist the victims with counseling, its willingness to accept the NCAA sanctions and fines, its efforts to train 10,000 employees on child abuse reporting, and its willingness to settle the victims' claims. 

Certainly, on the surface, PSU's actions look like those of an organization who was trying to make amends for a transgression. 

Why would an organization pay over $100 million if it wasn’t guilty? 

What the public doesn’t realize is that this scandal -- and all that PSU was doing “for the children” -- wasn’t costing them a penny.

The Financial Smokescreens of Guilt

As I noted in this post, PSU’s acceptance of $60 million in fines appears to be an admission of guilt to the public, however, its method of financing through internal loans to the Athletic Department (AD) actually turns the fines into a revenue source for the University over the next 35 years.  At current market interest rates, the University will collect nearly $45.3 million in interest off the internal loans to the AD.  While the AD will undoubtedly feel the brunt of the NCAA sanctions for a long time to come, the University - at large - feels no pain.   And let’s face it; a $15 million fine per year is not a hardship for an organization with an annual budget of $4 billion.

Additionally, the scandal is a wash for PSU if it is able to win its insurance lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association (PMA).  However, there are quite a few people who collected or will collect a lot of money from the Sandusky scandal.

Mitchell: Cashed in on another scandal.
The list of people who received financial benefits/direct payments from PSU as a result of the scandal includes, but is not limited to, eight (at the moment) of Sandusky’s victims from the trial, approximately 19 claimants who alleged to be victims of Sandusky, the attorneys for those 27 individuals, Andrew Shubin who was not an attorney for the victims but funneled many to Ross Feller Casey, former FBI-Director Louis Freeh, Pepper-Hamilton, Lanny Davis, PR firms (Kekst, Ketchum, Edelman, and LaTorre), the Pennsylvania Coalition on Rape (PCAR), the Penn State/Milton Hershey Medical Center, former Senator George Mitchell/DLA Piper, and attorneys for defendants Curley, Schultz, and Spanier.

Joyner: $396K per year
as Athletic Director
There are also individuals who profited or will profit indirectly from the scandal.  Obviously, the media made its fair share from the news coverage, Sara Ganim got a Pulitzer Prize (local reporting) and a better gig at CNN, Dave Joyner got a $396,000 per year job as PSU Athletic Director, and then there are the people that will profit from the financing of the loans to the AD.  While the first payment of the NCAA fines was taken from PSU’s Institutional Support budget, future payments and AD program expenses of $30 million are part of a $750M loan that was approved by the PSU BOT in September 2013.   It is unclear at the moment how this loan has been secured, however I suspect that a number of PSU “financial insiders” will end up profiting from this loan.



The only financial loser in the scandal appears to be the PSU football team, which ended up $5 million in the hole last year and whose bowl proceeds from 2011 were used to fund the child abuse research center at Hershey Medical Center and a grant to the Pennsylvania Coalition on Rape (PCAR).

Victim Settlements
There is no great mystery behind PSU setting a price tag of $60 million for the settlements for the nearly 30 claimants.   All you need to do is examine PSU’s complaint (law suit) against PMA.  From the complaint:

The complaint says the policies, in most cases, contain a $2 million “per occurrence” limit and a $3 million aggregate limit. The lawsuit argues that each of the underlying claims trigger, at the very least, each PMA policy in effect on the date that each “injury,” as that term is defined in the PMA policies, alleged first was suffered by each individual claimant. Penn State demands a jury trial on all issues triable to a jury.


Penn State also has insurance coverage from a captive insurer, Nittany Insurance, which is under the umbrella of the non-profit foundation known as the Corporation for Penn State. In addition to Nittany Insurance, PSU also has “excess coverage” from United Educators insurance. Finally, press reports indicated that PSU intended to recover some of the funds through the insurer of The Second Mile (TSM).  Therefore, the PSU BOT expected that insurance would cover all of the settlement costs and most of the legal fees associated with the scandal.

Erickson: "That's obviously 
why we buy insurance.."
During an interview at Bloomberg headquarters, Erickson said the “bulk of the funding” for settlements will come from insurance.

“That’s obviously why we buy insurance…to cover the defense of the university’s executives, employees, trustees and so forth.”

And about those training programs to increase awareness of child abuse reporting procedures – those programs help limit their liability premiums (according to insurance scholars).  

Let’s face it, child abuse incidents are rare on college campuses.  This training is overkill and was mostly done to limit liability premiums  -- although the training did provide the appearance that the University actually cared about protecting children. 

The Child Protection Ruse

Ample evidence – and truthful statements from Kenneth Frazier – proved that the PSU BOT was really enabling the future abuse Pennsylvania’s children. 

Clemens: "...smoke this out."
At the March 15, 2013, meeting of the PSU BOT, trustee Al Clemens raised the issue of the 1998 incident being fully investigated and there being no reason to penalize PSU. 

“The problem here is there’s a bit of divide between the alumni and the board. We all won’t be on board until we somehow smoke this out.” 

Clemens remarked that the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and Centre County Children and Youth Services (CYS) had some responsibility and should have been monitoring Sandusky more closely and that he would like to pose some of those questions to Louis Freeh.

Frazier’s response to Clemens spoke volumes about his and PSU’s sincerity regarding the protection of children:

Frazier:  Defended the Freeh Report
instead of defending PA's children
“Once again, we did not investigate the Department of Public Welfare or anyone outside Penn State.  Irrespective of whether you think they have a responsibility, that was not within the parameters of the Freeh Report.”  

This was quite a change from his statement to the New York Times regarding PSU’s concern for children:

“To me, it wasn’t about guilt or innocence in a legal sense.  It was about these norms of society that I’m talking about: that every adult has a responsibility for every other child in our community. And that we have a responsibility not to do the minimum, the legal requirement. We have a responsibility for ensuring that we can take every effort that’s within our power not only to prevent further harm to that child, but to every other child.”

I don't believe for a second that Frazier was being sincere when he talked about making every effort that’s within his power to protect children.  As the state’s flagship University, PSU could be the leader in calling for reforms to Pennsylvania’s child protection system.  But instead of doing that, it paid Louis Freeh $6.5 million to whitewash over the child protection system's failures in the Sandusky case.

Report 1 extensively covered Freeh’s whitewash of the DPW failures in 1998.  The text of the Freeh Report excluded  the most obvious signs of possible sexual abuse that were known, but overlooked, by the Department of Public Welfare investigators.  Freeh also failed to include the 1998 University Park police report, the psychology report of Dr. Chambers, and the report of counselor John Seasock in the Appendices of his report.  Those reports clearly indicated that DPW had scuttled the 1998 investigation prematurely and essentially stopped investigating after just a few days.  

The University's and Frazier's unwillingness to subject the Freeh Report to scrutiny -- and to discount all of the reviews that pointed out the reports flaws -- speaks volumes about the BOT's lack of transparency and discouragement of dissenting views.   Particularly when the dissenting views make a certain Ex-Officio member of the Board look bad and when those views reveal that Pennsylvania's child protection system didn't work in 1998, 2008, or today.

THE PSU BOT's ROLE IN PUBLIC LYNCHING OF PENN STATE

Now that we’ve dispensed with the nonsense that the PSU Administration and the Board was sincere about the University’s concern for the victims – in contrast to the students and alumni, who actually paid money from their own pockets to donate to victim advocacy organizations – let’s take a look at how the PSU BOT deceived the public and the PSU community regarding its desire for a full, fair and objective investigation to find out what happened in the scandal.  The evidence in this case demonstrates that the PSU BOT was making statements of guilt and culpability by PSU officials from the outset and have not stopped since.    


November 2011 – Response to Grand Jury Presentment

None of the “C” level executives sitting on the PSU Board would have ever let their own companies make a statement regarding a pending legal matter like the one the PSU Board made on November 8th. 

Unlike Spanier’s statement that assumed Sandusky was innocent until proven guilty, the Board used emotionally charged language that did nothing but help stoke the fire of public opinion against PSU.   Their statement was as follows:

PSU BOT:  Condemned Penn State by its actions in
response to the Sandusky scandal.
“The Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University is outraged by the horrifying details contained in the Grand Jury Report.  As parents, alumni and members of the Penn State Community, our hearts go out to all those impacted by these terrible events, especially the tragedies involving children and their families...   We hear those of you who feel betrayed and we want to assure all of you that the Board will take swift decisive action....We promise you that we are committed to restoring public trust in the University.”

The very next day, the Board made the fateful decision to remove Spanier and Paterno – actions which were viewed as an admission of culpability for the Sandusky scandal.  If there was any public trust of PSU on November 8th, it was destroyed by the PSU BOT by 10PM on November 9th.

Surma couldn't provide specifics
During the question and answer period after the November 9th press conference, Board Co-Chair John Surma blundered his way through the session, often stating that the Board didn’t know the facts of the case but was making the decision in the best long term interest of PSU. You can read Surma’s remarks here and not only had the public lost trust in PSU, but most assuredly, its alumni did.

Eckel: Disappointed in public
support of Curley and Schultz

Surma could not provide reasons for the removal of Spanier – those “official statements” wouldn’t come until March 2012.  However, in a November 18th news article, trustee Keith Eckel stated:

“..  I was very disappointed the president came out with public support for Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. I know them both, I like them both, I respect them well, but we didn't know enough to be able to say that we were standing behind them. ... I was very uncomfortable. ... We didn't have all those facts and the presentment, although it is only one side of the argument, is extremely damaging, troubling, upsetting."


Origin of the “Moving Forward” Ruse/Campaign

While many point to the comments about “moving forward” in the immediate aftermath of the Freeh Report, my research has uncovered that it was PSU President Rodney Erickson who actually coined this term early in the scandal.  On November 22nd, Erickson opened his statement with this:

“In the last two painful weeks, Penn State has been shaken to our foundation. But we are moving forward, and with every decision we’re committed to doing the right thing for the victims, their families, and the Penn State community.” 

At first, most believed Erickson to be an honest and sincere person, who was thrust into a terrible situation and was in over his head.  However, as the scandal continued on and more evidence was uncovered, it became clear that Erickson had much more financial savvy than he let on and knew fully well that any fines from the NCAA or payments to the victims would have almost no effect on PSU’s bottom line.

While the University and the administration attempted to promote it as being forward looking and not dwelling on the past, many alumni saw right through it.  The Board was accepting blame and spend money too easily.  It became clear that “Moving forward” was really about making sure that nothing (i.e., criminal charges) from the scandal ended up on the shoes of the PSU BOT.

The “moving forward” campaign would later co-opt the PSU Athletic Department to promote a “ONE TEAM – MOVING FORWARD” publicity campaign during the 2012 football season.

December 2011 – The Bystander Approach, Origins of “Football Culture” Ruse, and Questions about Baldwin 

PCAR took $1.5 million to
help indict PSU football
On the first day of December, PSU announced it was providing $1.5 million (from the football team's bowl revenue) to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) for partnership programs to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. However, when one looks at what PSU really bought and paid for, it was for PCAR to blame the Sandusky scandal on University employees under the guise of education about the "bystander approach."  PCAR and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) produced a series of articles calling the Sandusky scandal the mother of all teachable moments in the bystander approach.  

The bystander articles were written  in the immediate aftermath of the scandal and were based on what we now know to be false information that was contained in the Sandusky grand jury presentment, as well as yet to be proven allegations of a failure to report child abuse.  

PCAR's initial press conference about the Sandusky scandal could only be described as "over the top."  Delilah Rumburg, PCAR's Director, delivered a scathing indictment aimed at not Jerry Sandusky, but at Joe Paterno.  Rumsburg blasted Paterno, even though he actually had reported the incident (and was not a bystander).

Those little boys needed help and support back then. They are the victims of a incredibly devastating crime.  They kept silent all these years over whether they would be believed over a famous coach and the powerful institution."

"All of the adults who knew, who suspected, who whispered in private, that failed to make those phone calls, also failed those little boys.  And now here is this frenzy, the national outrage, and the focus on the career of a football coach.  A pillar of this community, who held immense power and influence, and he chose to look away.  These things are disrespectful, insulting and shameful. 

The PSU BOT was getting everything it paid for from PCAR and the NSVRC.  Ironically, the football program, in this instance, was funding its own destruction.


The Football Culture Ruse

 In one of the earliest extensive interviews with Erickson, USA Today reported that the new President was seeking to transform the university's public image from a football school to a "world class research institution."  Erickson remarked:

"We want that to be the front face of the university” and that the scandal provided an "urgency for discussions about the role of big-time athletics and where they interact with higher education."


Other University officials and some alumni, who were oblivious to the school’s reputation for successfully combining top flight athletics with academic success, joined Erickson’s unwarranted call for a re-balancing at PSU.  One alumnus remarked:

"Penn State is still going to fill that stadium every Saturday in the fall, I'm quite certain of that. But they're going to (re-establish a commitment to academics). That's what a university is about. That got out of balance. This will help center it a little bit."

This was a truly unbelievable turn of events for a school that prided itself on not being a football factory and for winning on the field with true student athletes – the PSU administration was trashing Paterno’s grand experiment months before Louis Freeh and the NCAA would do the same. 

The evidence in this case indicates that Erickson and others at PSU, with help from PSU's hired PR flack Lanny Davis, were filling in the details of the narrative for Freeh and the NCAA to utilize down the road.  Those details would include shifting the blame for PSU’s lack of responsiveness to subpoenas on the PSU Three.

 “Issues with the incumbent”

Based on e-mail evidence obtained by Ryan Bagwell, it is highly probable that the former OAG officials were considering charges against Baldwin for obstruction of justice as early as December 2011.  On December 19th to 22nd, e-mails regarding an “Urgent call” and “Grand Jury Subpoena Compliance” were exchanged by Freeh and members of the PSU Board of Trustees, lawyer Frank Guadagnino, Secretary Tomalis, and Freeh team member, Omar McNeil.   The contents of those e-mails follow:

     Guadagnino was party to
the "urgent" discussions
         Frazier:  "I just finished speaking with Frank. I explained why I think there are issues with the incumbent. He agrees. I believe he will be providing that advice to Surma when they meet tomorrow."

         McNeill replied to Frazier and copied Guadagnino: "any further need for Louie to follow up? I trust that Frank G got a clear message from you."

         Frazier: "I think I was very direct. After hearing my position he said he was already thinking in a similar direction. No need for Louie to call." Frazier then FYI’d Tomalis. Tomalis to Frazier: "Thanks, things moving along“

The “incumbent” referred to in the e-mail was very likely Cynthia Baldwin.

January 2012 – The Baldwin “Retirement” and Blaming Spanier

On January 16th, 2012 an e-mail announcement for the PSU BOT to hold a conference call to address “strategic issues moving forward” was sent to the BOT members, Lanny Davis, and Frank Guadagnino.  While the contents of the e-mail were not revealed due to attorney-client privilege issues, the call preceded the BOT’s eventual meetings with the New York Times and the Harrisburg Patriot News

The day after the conference call, Baldwin announced her retirement from PSU.  The media reported that her retirement had nothing to do with the scandal.  The December 2011 e-mails - uncovered by Ryan Bagwell - challenge the media’s conclusion.

On January 18th, the BOT met with the media to explain how it had been caught off guard by the Sandusky grand jury report, while many BOT members, including Erickson, said they had no idea of the Sandusky investigation before November 2011.

Rodney Erickson (Jan 7, 2012):  “There were, I would think nearly all individuals at the university, including me, were not aware of any this until we read it in the grand jury presentment, so how would we have known?”
Mark Dambly (Jan 18, 2012): "There was a lack of information being provided to us. We found out about it when the rest of the world found out about it.

Unfortunately for the Board, on the day before Baldwin “retired,” she swore in an affidavit that she and Spanier had briefed the Board on the 2002 (actually 2001) and 1998 incidents in May of 2011.  This affidavit was not made public until the Freeh Report released it in July 2012. 

In the meetings with the media, Board members heaped the majority of the blame for being kept in the dark on Spanier.

Karen Peetz (Jan. 18, 2012): “Part of being a leader at that level is to be a risk manager and to think through what might happen.”

Ira Lubert (Jan. 18, 2012): “He should have told us a lot more. He should have let us know much more of the background.”

While Lanny Davis was busy spinning the story of how Spanier – not Baldwin - was to blame for the Board’s alleged lack of knowledge, the PA OAG appeared to be coming after Baldwin for stonewalling their investigation

On January 31, 2012, PSU President Erickson was informed that the OAG was disappointed in PSU’s slow responses to the subpoenas.  Erickson was told specifically that “behavior like that should not go unpunished.”

February 2012 – The Federal Subpoena and Baldwin’s Dual Representation


On February 2, 2012, the Patriot News resurrected an article it had written on November 19, 2011, regarding Cynthia Baldwin’s possible conflicts of interest in representing Penn State, Curley, and Schultz. So, why was the story resurfacing?

Baldwin: "Retirement" not tied
to Sandusky scandal?
It appears that Baldwin’s retirement announcement in January may have caused the Patriot News to rerun the story and consider the dual representation issue as a possible reason for her “retirement.”  At the time of Baldwin’s “retirement” announcement, Jan Murphy based her report on the Centre Daily Times reporting, who said the move was unrelated to the Sandusky scandal.   However, Ganim’s February 2nd article mentioned Baldwin’s retirement and that PSU disputed the idea that Baldwin had a dual representation issue.

According to Ganim, when the story originally ran, the University raised no public concerns about the story.  At that time, PSU had just hired Freeh and that story was dominating the news – therefore the Baldwin story was overshadowed by articles about the former FBI-Director, which were overwhelmingly positive.  PSU was being equally praised for establishing the task force to hire Freeh.  

Davis: Incredulous statements in
defense of Cynthia Baldwin
.
Lanny Davis, the crisis-manager/spin doctor of the stars and whose resume’ included navigating the Monica Lewinsky affair for (impeached) Bill Clinton, the (jailed) Martha Stewart ImClone stock scandal, and (resigned) Trent Lott’s racial statements, had been hired in December to help right the ship.   Davis spun the Baldwin dual representation issue as a simple case of Baldwin not hearing Curley and Schultz say she was representing them.  Davis also made the dubious statement that Baldwin never discussed the case or her representation with Curley and Schultz, even though she drove them back and forth from State College to Harrisburg – a 90 minute drive each way. 

After February 2012 – and his incredulous comments about Baldwin -  Davis was rarely heard from, however he advised PSU on providing the March statements on the removals of Spanier and Paterno.

The Federal Subpoena – PSU BOT Included In Fed's Investigation
On the day Ganim resurrected the story on Baldwin’s dual representation, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District issued a subpoena for a variety of documents and records pertaining to the Sandusky investigation, however this subpoena asked for information on the PSU BOT.   

The first item (#1) requested in the subpoena was the names and addresses of all PSU Board members and records of payments between the Board members and PSU or payments to a third-party on behalf of PSU.  Items 2 through 5 all pertained to information concerning interactions to include out of court settlements between Sandusky, TSM, and PSU and any records pertaining to misconduct.  Items 6 and 7 requested computer data regarding 1-5, plus the hard drives of Spanier, Curley, Schultz, and Sandusky.  Item 8 asked for all documents related to TSM and Sandusky.



On February 24th, 2012, PSU published a story about the subpoena on its news site, but the article reported the information in inverse order of which it was requested.  It led with the Feds wanting information about Spanier, Curley, Schultz, and TSM, followed by the information about the BOT. The article stated that PSU was cooperating with the investigation and that the original deadline for providing the information was moved from 29 February to an undisclosed date in the future.  The article closed by stating the BOT was determined to find the truth and had hired Louis Freeh to conduct an investigation.

While most of the media covering the story began reporting on the day of the PSU news article, Sara Ganim and the Patriot News published a report one day earlier – on February 23rd.   How did Ganim make this report one day prior to PSU’s release?   I suspect it was because the Federal officials were sharing information with the OAG, who apparently leaked it to Ganim.

It also appears that Ganim and the Patriot News forced the news article by PSU.  Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that PSU would have disclosed that its Board members were part of an ongoing investigation.

Ganim’s article opined that the Federal investigation was likely regarding Sandusky’s transport of victim’s over state lines – a violation of the Mann Act, which would require federal intervention.   Many in the national media followed Ganim’s lead – only casually mentioning the request of information about the PSU BOT members.

The story of the Federal investigation never gained much traction in the media and the apparent assumption was that the Feds were involved in the Sandusky investigation.  However, a well-placed source in the Department of Justice confirmed the investigation’s focus was TSM, not Sandusky.  


When I broached this topic in September 2013 with Patriot News reporter, Charles Thompson, he appeared to have no idea that a federal investigation of TSM was on-going. 

March 2012 – Board Announced Reasons for Removing Spanier and Paterno
After months of deliberations under the guidance of Lanny Davis, the PSU BOT finally announced the reasoning behind the removals (not firings) of Paterno and Spanier. 

The rationales in both cases were for a failure of leadership.  The BOT specified that Spanier failed to inform them about the 2002 (2001) incident as one of the primary reasons for his removal.  The other reason was for making “unauthorized” statements without the approval of the Board.

Paterno, who the Board said was “removed for the last three games of the season,” had fulfilled his legal obligations, but the board inferred he didn’t call the police.  That constituted a “failure of leadership” according to the Board.  They also added he was removed for “not doing more.”

The Board’s statement also apologized for the manner in which Paterno was fired and that it also considered honoring the coach’s legacy in the future – but that would be contingent upon the outcome of the investigation by Louis Freeh.    

As we would later learn, the BOT’s contract with Freeh essentially required him to find failures of PSU officials and to identify the causes of those failures.  The BOT knew that honoring Paterno in the future wasn’t going to happen.

Finally, the statement closed with the BOT repeating Corbett’s statement about “remembering the children” and that it had committed to supporting the victims of sexual assault and abuse that took place on PSU’s campus, stating their “lives would be scarred for years to come.”

April 2012 – ESPN’s Van Natta Outs PSU BOT for “Termination” of Paterno

Suhey:  "three weeks early."
One of the deceptions perpetrated by the PSU BOT was their contention that they didn’t terminate Paterno on November 9th and that he was still under the terms of his contract at PSU.  

As late as March 2013, trustee Paul Suhey refused to acknowledge Paterno was fired, instead saying “we retired him three weeks early.”


ESPN’s Don Van Natta in an issue of ESPN The Magazine, reported on the politics of the Sandusky scandal and how Governor Tom Corbett took credit for having Paterno fired.  The article, titled "Fight on State," included an image of Paterno’s termination letter, dated November 16, 2011 and signed by then-PSU Counsel Cynthia Baldwin.  The letter asked for Paterno to make arrangements for the return of University property and his leased vehicle.   This was the “smoking gun” that exposed the PSU BOT for lying about the actions taken against Paterno on November 9th.

An e-mail sent to the trustees on April 9th contained a reference to “Media Contacts/Communications Protocols” and stated the “ESPN article not helpful.” The e-mail also included an agenda item for discussing "dissident groups running for [BOT] election."


On April 16th, Sara Ganim and the Patriot News were awarded a Pulitzer prize for local reporting for their coverage of the Sandusky scandal.   On that day, it was also learned that PSU President Rodney Erickson was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.


June 2012 – Sandusky Verdict and E-mail Leaks

The Commonwealth succeeded in convicting Sandusky on 45 of 48 charges in a case that was brought to trial without the judge granting a single continuance.  While prosecutor Joseph McGettigan stated that neither Penn State nor TSM was on trial, it was very clear from the presentation of witnesses that part of the prosecution’s strategy was to put the onus on PSU for enabling Sandusky’s crimes and obstructing the investigation.   McGettigan spent considerable time having the victims testify about incidents occurring on PSU’s campus and produced numerous evidence exhibits related to PSU football.  Agent Anthony Sassano testified that PSU was slow to answer subpoenas and delayed the investigation.  

Penn State released the following statement after the announcement of the Sandusky verdicts, that reinforced the culpability of the University for Sandusky’s crimes:

Now that the jury has spoken, the University wants to continue that dialogue and do its part to help victims continue their path forward. To that end, the University plans to invite victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the University arising out of Mr. Sandusky's conduct. The purpose of the program is simple – the University wants to provide a forum where the University can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the University. Counsel to the University plan to reach out to counsel to the victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse in the near future with additional details.

E-mail leaks
Candiotti: Attended Bishop Guilfoyle High School
with Sandusky investigator Feathers. 

Sassano is an Altoona native as well.
In late June, ABC broke the story of alleged incriminating e-mails being uncovered during Freeh’s investigation, however it was CNN’s Susan Candiotti who reported almost the full contents of the February 25-27 e-mails between Spanier, Curley, and Schultz.  Candiotti, who is originally  from Altoona, attended the same high school (Bishop Guilfoyle) as Sandusky case investigator Randy Feathers.  The article stated that CNN did not possess the e-mails; however their contents were read to CNN. The e-mails were treated as “smoking gun” evidence of a failure to report and a cover-up by PSU officials, leading CNN to opine that Spanier would face charges.

PSU spokesman David LaTorre did not comment on the leaks.

July 2012 – The Freeh Report and Aftermath
One of the biggest debacles in the Sandusky scandal was the grand-standing press conference held by Louis Freeh in which he stated the evidence he found didn’t meet the legal, beyond-a-reasonable doubt standard of guilt, but went on to state his conclusions as if they did. The greatest evidentiary leaps made by Louis Freeh were aimed squarely at Joe Paterno.  First, with absolutely no evidence to support his claim, Freeh stated that Paterno had followed the 1998 investigation closely.  Next, he stated that Paterno was the sole intervening factor in the decision not to report the 2001 incident.  Never mind the fact that the latter was based on just five words in an e-mail (“talking it over with Joe"), in which neither Freeh nor anyone else who participated in the investigation knew what the “talking” was about.

Certainly, the media didn’t question Freeh's conclusions and neither did the PSU Administration, even though members of the latter group certainly knew that some of his assertions were completely false.  For example:

-- President Erickson knew that the Schultz file was already in PSU's possession in January 2012;

-- The PSU General Counsel’s Office knew that PSU’s IT Department had turned over the e-mail evidence in the case and it was not “independently” discovered by Freeh; and;

-- PSU officials also knew that the janitor incident could not have occurred as it was alleged, given the conflicting information given by the two janitors.

Peetz and Frazier: Emphasized Freeh's findings against
Spanier, Paterno, Curley, and Schultz
.
Despite this knowledge, some PSU BOT members were allowed to make statements affirming that they had complete trust and faith in the Freeh Report.  Karen Peetz and Kenneth Frazier initially praised the report for being “comprehensive and thorough.”  Judge Freeh was said to have “followed the facts” in the investigation. Frazier amplified the reports findings against PSU officials, stating: 

"people who were in position to protect children and confront a predator" and "did not put the protection of children first." 


The Board’s official response to the Freeh Report follows:
Today’s comprehensive report is sad and sobering in that it concludes that at the moment of truth, people in positions of authority and responsibility did not put the welfare of children first.  The Board of Trustees, as the group that has paramount accountability for overseeing and ensuring the proper functioning and governance of the University, accepts full responsibility for the failures that occurred. The Board, in cooperation with the Administration, will take every action to ensure that events like these never happen again in our university community.

The focus of all of our actions going forward will be on driving a culture of honesty, integrity, responsible leadership and accountability at all levels and within all units of our institution.

Judge Freeh's report concludes that certain people at the University who were in a position to protect children or confront the predator failed to do so. There can be no ambiguity about that. The defenseless victims and their families are at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers.  We are deeply sorry for the failure to protect these vulnerable young boys from the pain and anguish they suffered.  At the same time, we are filled with admiration for the bravery shown by the young men and their families who came forward to ensure that justice will be done.
While today’s issuance of the Freeh Report provides some level of clarity for our community, it does not undo the pain that the victims of Jerry Sandusky have experienced, and continue to experience.  We will continue to offer counseling to Mr. Sandusky’s victims, listen to them and take affirmative steps to address the harm they have suffered.
If that wasn’t enough of an admission of culpability for the scandal, the Board’s and President Erickson’s actions in the ensuing weeks would seal the deal. 
Did Erickson buckle because of this?
Or was it just another part of the ruse?
First, in response to a terrorist threat by unknown individuals piloting a banner plane with the message, “TAKE THE STATUE DOWN OR WE WILL,” Erickson ordered the statue of Joe Paterno to be removed from outside Beaver Stadium.  Erickson called the statue “a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”  


Workers remove the Paterno statue.
There was no stronger symbol of PSU officials admitting Penn State’s and Paterno's (yet to be proven) role in the Sandusky scandal than removing the statue. The PSU BOT had to know that.  They also had to know that the removal of the would cause not just division, but a revolt, among PSU alumni, fans, and friends.  However, the Board was on a mission to emasculate the football program so that it would never be part of the PSU power structure again.  They now had all the power and they were willing to wield it, no matter how much damage they caused.
A day later, Erickson (in consultation with key members of the PSU BOT Executive Committee) signed the NCAA Consent Decree.  The group agreed to accept draconian sanctions on the PSU football program, which included a transfer policy that was intended to wipe out the current roster and to vacate of Paterno's wins from 1998 to 2011, which was intended to destroy PSU's football tradition.  The Consent Decree also quoted the Freeh Report’s unsupported statements that PSU football culture enabled Sandusky to abuse young boys on campus.  Most importantly for the Board, the Consent Decree kept the NCAA from doing its own investigation of PSU Athletics.

Given all the evidence, it is likely that Erickson and key members of the PSU BOT conducted a campaign to  place blame on the football program (and the PSU Three),  paid victim's advocates to link the Sandusky scandal to the "bystander approach," accepted penalties, and planned to made payoffs to victims in order to keep anyone from legitimately investigating not just their own activities, but those of Pennsylvania's child welfare system.  

Governor Corbett, whose state agencies avoided considerable blame and embarrassment over the Sandusky case due to Freeh's whitewashing of the details of the case, had his share of comments after the release of the Freeh Report.

Corbett condemned the actions of what he called the “prior administration” and “prior people who were in control.” His statement also portended things to come:

 “I’m very disappointed in the lack of forthcoming evidence to the subpoena that was given to them by the Attorney General’s office.” 

The public lynching was far from over.

To be continued…

17 comments:

  1. Thanks once again, Ray, for your meticulous research, your intelligent analyses and your tireless and courageous efforts to expose the real villains in the Sandusky fiasco. You have the heart of a lion!

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  2. The April 6, 2012 email where item 4. refers to ‘dissident groups running for election’ is really pissing me off. What a clown Peetz is!

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  3. Wasn't one of the premises of the Freeh report that the BOT would minimize their involvement and communication to avoid the perception of trying to influence or white wash the report? If true, McNeil's involvement in the "incumbent" email chain is quite curious. Why would he be involved in the affairs of a secretive BOT if the subject of the emails did NOT pertain the the Sandusky scandal and Freeh investigation?
    I'm not as convinced as you are that Baldwin's resignation was the topic.

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    1. "Grand jury subpoena compliance" was about PSU's failure to promptly respond to the AG's request for e-mails re: Sandusky. It is well documented that Baldwin rec'd the subpoena in December, the evidence was due January 10th, and she didn't respond to the request until April.

      Note that in January, Erickson was told the OAG wanted to punish someone for not responding to the subpoena.

      And that the BOT was letting Freeh do this investigation independently is flat out false. They were controlling it.

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  4. Thank you Ray. I'm ashamed that our Board, at that time, had no men or women with any Honor. These lying,cheating, self-centered, ambitious cretins put themselves before our University. I can only hope that their worlds will fall part around them and that they never have their day in the sun again. Thank you again for all your efforts in keeping us informed.

    Betcha, they never took into account their inability to control flow of information over the internet. It will be their downfall.

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    1. And they just hired our new Pres!

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    2. And this is the same B that has hired our new P?

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  5. Ray,
    Thank you for your passion and extraordinary talents to expose the truth. Your great work exposes the root issue and that is power. Members of the PSU BOT and Corbett used this opportunity to expand their base of power and abuse the public. This is corruption at the highest level. AG Kane probably realizes that there are investigations, indictments, destruction of witness notes, destruction of proffer notes and destruction of OAG emails specifically arranged to protect those in power. I believe the public will not fully understand the significance of your outstanding work until the abuse of the OAG prior to Kane is exposed.

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  6. Excellent job as usual. Shouldn't Erickson be listed as a person who indirectly benefited financially from the scandal? Erickson never would have been PSU President without the scandal.

    I find it hard to believe that insurance will even begin to cover all the financial costs of the scandal. Whenever large insurance claims are paid, insurance costs skyrocket so PSU will be paying for this scandal for decades with higher premiums.

    In terms of financial losers, it's not just the football team but all the other sports that football revenue helps fund. The NCAA sanctions said PSU couldn't reduce funding to other sports because of the sanctions but PSU could freeze funding at current levels.

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    1. Tim,
      I think the PSU BOT/Erickson believed that insurance would cover the legal fees and the settlement costs for the scandal.

      Judge Yvette Kane ruled that there was no "vicarious liability" in the case because Sandusky's acts were outside the scope of his employment.

      PMA is claiming -- and this is where it gets interesting -- that PSU didn't inform them about Sandusky in 1998 or in 2001, thus they didn't understand the risk they were dealing with in providing the coverage. Had they known, they could have decided to not insure PSU or to make PSU pay higher premiums for the higher risk.

      For PSU to rebut the argument, it seems that they would have to DENOUNCE the Freeh Report's findings that PSU officials, including the President, understood what they were dealing with and intentionally withheld that information from PMA.

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  7. We need to keep repeating Frazier's racist tirade in every possible media outfit, with comments like, "A real credit to Penn State and the Merck Corporation, isn't he?" until he self-deports.

    We need to remind people that Frazier and Peetz defamed Paterno, and Frazier (more likely than not) defamed Spanier, Curley, and Schultz, and then Peetz lied about it in the Nov/Dec. 2012 Penn Stater. Her new name is Karen "Speaks with a Forked Tongue" Peetz.

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    1. Frazier's racist tirade also included his summary dismissal of "so-called due process". I think this attitude is actually worse than overt racism. Particularly when expressed by a powerful lawyer, publicly and on the record.

      I hope every mention of Frazier will note his disdain for both those not like him and for a fundamental principle of this country.

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  8. Conspiracies abound amongst the Trustees and their efforts to deflect and sweep away anything that might put them in the hot seat. When do we get one of those with insider knowledge to come forward? When do their consciences force them to speak the truth instead of spending their time and the universities money to put the blame on others.The upcoming legal proceeding may only get more lies and deceit from them but maybe we will get someone to do the right thing for a change. Miracles do happen and we need a couple.

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  9. I remember seeing the "terroristic threat" message being flown over campus and commented several times on public media that I was shocked that no investigation into the "source" of the message was being conducted. There are only three air strips close enough to State College where this could have originated: Bellefonte Airport (near University Park AP), a grass strip near Centre Hall, and Mifflin County AP near Reedsville, yet there appeared to be no interest in finding out who was behind the message. This still bothers me and probably will until we find out.

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    1. FWIW

      http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/17/12794241-airplane-banner-tells-penn-state-take-joe-paterno-statue-down?lite

      National Sky Ads, the Long Island-based company that flew the banner, told NBC News that the person who hired them is "a concerned citizen" who "takes offense to certain things." The owner, who only wanted to be identified as "Ted," confirmed that this was the same person who hired an airplane banner poking fun at Tiger Woods in 2010.

      The plane is registered to Ohio-based Air America Aerial Ads, according to the Centre Daily Times. The operator of that plane, James Miller, would not identify his client, but told the Centre Daily Times that he believes in the freedom of speech.

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  10. Wow, I cannot wait til you get to CORBETTS involvement !!!! This is like a soap opera lol I am just curious now is WHERE IS RAY GRICAR ?????? Or is that in the next chapter with Corbett's involvement ???...IT BETTER BE !!!!!!

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  11. Whereby, after two years, the OAG probably hoped that one of the defendants (CSS) might turn on the others, my hope is that someone from the 2011 BOT will eventually turn on the Executive Committee. We all know that's where the dirty laundry is.

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