Saturday, February 9

Freeh's Press Conference Undone

Had the Freeh Report been subject to review prior to release, the errors and omissions in it would have left the former-FBI director practically speechless.  He would have been left with one set of facts to report -- the PSU BOT failed in their oversight of the University.

Ray Blehar

In the aftermath of the Freeh Report, a few people weighed in on the report to support its findings.  Here's a sample:

“We thank Judge Freeh for his diligence in uncovering the facts over the past eight months and issuing such a comprehensive and thorough report,”

-- Penn State Trustee, Kenneth Frazier, July 13, 2012

“Over the past several weeks, high-profile criticisms of the Freeh Report, which examined the Penn State administration's failed response to a report of inappropriate sexual behavior by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, generated more heat than light. Nearly identical missives from a handful of renegade PSU trustees, the family of ex-coach Joe Paterno, and a handful of former Penn State football players all slammed the Freeh Report as biased and filled with factual errors--but were unable to identify even one specific way in which the report was biased, or point out even one factual error that made the critics' case.”
-- KC Johnson, Minding the Campus, September 5, 2012

“The Freeh group was given carte blanche to look anywhere and everywhere inside the university….. I could have sent my entire team in there for five years and couldn't have gotten anywhere near that level of detailed understanding of what went on there…. So, to suggest that we could somehow conduct, and by the way, spend another two years debating and discussing what happened at Penn State didn't make sense to anybody involved, when the probability of finding anything in addition to the Freeh Report was zero.”

          -- NCAA President, Mark Emmert, December 12, 2012

I took these comments as a challenge and easily identified 20 errors and omissions in the report. It was hard to keep the list to twenty, understanding that the media has a short attention span, so I picked the ones that had the most impact on Freeh's press conference statements.

The Freeh Report:

1.      Omitted Federal and state laws regarding the confidentiality of child abuse reports.

2.      Incorrectly found that Paterno, Curley, and Spanier knew the details of the 1998 investigation (none of the e-mails used as evidence contain any details about the investigation).

3.      Incorrectly found that Spanier failed in his duties by not informing the Board of Trustees about 1998 (based on the Standing Orders of the BOT, the e-mail evidence, Spanier’s travel schedule, and his statement – Exhibit 2J - he did not know of the investigation).

4.      Incorrectly found that Paterno, Curley, Spanier, and Schultz were kept informed of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky (e-mail evidence shows they were not kept informed).

5.      Incorrectly found that Paterno and Curley provided Sandusky with access to facilities for conducting programs for youth (access was granted by PSU’s Outreach Office).

6.      Constructed an incomplete timeline of Sandusky’s crimes.

7.      Did not investigate the claims by Gary Schultz and Wendell Courtney regarding contacting Centre County Children and Youth Services (CYS) about the 2001 incident.

8.      Did not address the changing testimony and non-specific information reported by Mike McQueary regarding the 2001 shower incident.

9.      Omitted the testimony of Dr. Jonathon Dranov regarding the 2001 incident.

10.  Incorrectly characterized e-mails as “cryptic” and “unique” to the 2001 shower incident.

11.  Incorrectly concluded that Schultz, Spanier, and Curley had agreed to report the incident to DPW, but Paterno changed the plan.

12.  Incorrectly concluded that PSU failed to report Sandusky in 2001 to avoid the consequences of bad publicity.

13.  Did not investigate the potential conflict of interest issue between DPW and The Second Mile that was mentioned by police chief Thomas Harmon during the 1998 investigation.

14.  Incorrectly stated Paterno, Curley, and McQueary should have reported the 2001 incident to comply with the Clery Act.

15.  Incorrectly found that Paterno did not report the 2001 incident immediately because he didn’t want to interrupt anyone’s weekend (Paterno informed PSU officials on the weekend. In addition, Paterno’s schedule reveals that his out of town travel delayed his report by a day).

16.  Incorrectly recounted the trial testimony regarding the Fall 2000/Victim 8 incident.

17.  Did not critically analyze testimony in the Fall 2000/Victim 8 incident.

18.  Incorrectly stated that Victim 6 was assaulted (Sandusky was acquitted of that charge).

19.  Incorrectly stated that Victim 7 was assaulted (Sandusky was not charged with assault).

20.  Incorrectly stated that Victim 5 was assaulted (Sandusky was acquitted of that charge).

Unfortunately, the press and the public took Freeh's press conference findings as the definitive facts about the Sandusky Scandal and the fault for this was squarely on the Penn State Board of Trustees for failing to carry out their fiduciary responsibility -- which was to look out for the best interests of the University.

Giving Freeh permission to publish this report and to make public statements about the report's contents, prior to a review, were egregious errors and the members of the Special Investigations Task Force of the BOT should be forced to immediately resign for the damage inflicted by their poor decisions.

The members of the Special Investigations Task Force are:  Kenneth C.Frazier, Ronald J. Tomalis, H. Jesse Arnelle, Mark H. Dambly, Keith W. Eckel, and Karen B. Peetz.

"Your time is up."


  1. ...did not "want to interfere" with people's weekends, but did. Louie kinda left that part out.

  2. As you present this info elsewhere, and perhaps as an addendum here, you'll avoid some challenges by providing the precise references up front for the fed and state laws you're referencing. Providing the actual wording of these laws, again up front, would likely help deflect some questions as well.

    According to the PSU BOT bylaws (dated 7/2012), the BOT may be shielded from liability for their actions on this case. Do you know if this is true?

  3. The more I read about Freeh's press conference, the angrier I get.

    I attended that performance. The satellite trucks out on 17th street looked like they could've launched an air-strike. Inside the Westin ballroom, Freeh cavalierly lobbed grenades of half-truths, mis-truths & un-truths among the reporters...who so gleefully Tweeted & posted that shrapnel across the Interwebz.

    All cleverly done to hit the noon news cycle. Boom.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch...the BoT released the report to the Trustees at 8am. They met at 11:00 am to discuss not the report, but what they were going to say to the media at 1 pm. Most of the Trustees barely cracked open the first few pages.

    Truly the Inmates are running the Asylum.

  4. how odd . . . Tomalis is the man fighting the public records requests to release Freeh's contract with the Board of Trustees to the public.

  5. Wow...........just visiting different message boards, it appears that clearing Paterno's name has a long way to go even with the release of the Freeh rebuttal. So many outright dismiss it as self-serving without reading it. And Gregg Doyel at dismissed it as a joke without refuting anything in it.

  6. Ray, one very telling item about the Freeh report that is not really discussed is it's release date, Thursday July 12. This date is special because it is one of the slowest sports news reporting days of the year and if you want maximum exposure for something that involves a very high profile college football program and it's coach, this is the day. Why?

    That week was the week of the Major League Baseball All-Star game and break. That Sunday is the last day of MLB games before the break. On Monday you have reporting on Sunday's MLB games and the Home Run derby that Monday night. Tuesday is the MLB All-Star game and Wednesday is the day after the game when sports journalist report on and discuss the game. However, MLB did not resume games until that Friday the 13th. So there is nothing really to report on sportswise for Thursday the 12th. Releasing a big story that day gives all the sports reporters something to report/discuss on what is usually very slow sports news day. This can maximize the impact of the message, something that shouldn't matter for a non-biased independent investigation.

    Also consider that just 7 days later (July 19th), the Court for Arbitration in Sport struck down the lifetime ban of a FIFA official, in which the orginial justification for the ban was based on a report commissioned by FIFA and conducted by Louis Freeh. And another factor is the summer olympics were starting at the end of the month when many sports and news people would be in London covering the games.

    The release of the report on July 12th is too coincidental, it had to be initially planned. Why else was Spanier's interview in the beginning of July barely even mentioned in it.