Thursday, May 1

Freeh Report: Patriot News Coverage Repeated Freeh's Errors, Never Corrected Them

In today's Centre Daily Times, my letter to the editor stated that Penn State should not move forward until it corrects the inaccuracies of the Freeh Report.  

The inaccuracies of the report were quickly publicized in the initial media coverage of the Freeh Report press conference.  The media reported Freeh's statement as facts, without verifying them in the body of the report.  However, as this Patriot News article reveals, even with the time to review the report, and in light of new evidence, the erroneous information remained uncorrected.  

Red text indicates erroneous statements. 
 Bold text explains why the statement is incorrect and/or unsupported by evidence.

Ray Blehar

Penn State Freeh report: Highlights of findings

By SARA GANIM, The Patriot-NewsThe Patriot-News
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on July 12, 2012 at 9:43 AM,
updated January 21, 2013 at 12:34 PM

A team led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh releases its findings into Penn State University’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal today. It alleges that Penn State officials, including coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier, worked to cover up Sandusky's crimes.
View full sizeThe Freeh report on Penn State's handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case was released today.

Report highlights:
-- Joe Paterno followed the 1998 police investigation closely, contrary to his grand jury testimony and public statements before he died.

UNSUPPORTED:  There is one email with the subject line, “Joe Paterno” from 1998 stating that Curley has touched base with “coach.”  That is the entirety of the evidence of Paterno’s alleged knowledge of the 1998 incident.  In no way does the evidence support that Paterno "followed the investigation closely."

-- Vice President Gary Schultz wrote in notes questioning an opening of "Pandora's Box" and "More children?" in 1998.

-- Penn State had more than 350 policies for reporting crimes, but the structure was uneven.

-- The board of trustees had no known knowledge of the 1998 report, but that's inexcusable, Freeh said, because it means they put too much power in Spanier's hands.

ERRONEOUS:  According to the By-Laws and the Standing Orders of the PSU Board of Trustees at the time of the Freeh investigation, the Penn State University legal counsel was required to brief the Board on all legal matters.  The failure involved in this incident was the legal counsel was allegedly not informed of the matter by Gary Schultz or the chief of Police Tom Harmon.  It is notable that the legal counsel was informed in 2001 and also did not brief the Board of Trustees.

-- The board should have started an internal review in 2011, when it became public there was an investigation. The report makes no mention of Erickson's defense of not knowing that Penn State was involved in the Sandusky investigation.

ERRONEOUS:  The grand jury judge had issued a non-disclosure order to Penn State in February 2010, therefore, Penn State officials would have been prevented from stating anything they testified to in the grand jury.  The result would have been an ineffective internal review, much like the Freeh investigation.

-- Before 1998, several staff members witnessed Sandusky showering with boys, but never reported it.

UNSUPPORTED:  Only one staff member, retired coach Richard Anderson, testified (at the Sandusky trial) that he had seen Sandusky showering with a boy after a workout.  There are no other staff members on record stating they witnessed this. 

-- Rodney Erickson, now the president, had been uncomfortable in 1999 with Sandusky being granted "emeritus" rank of Sandusky's low academic title, but did it anyway at Spanier's request.

-- There is no indication that Sandusky's 1999 retirement was forced because of the 1998 police incident.

-- 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," to avoid bad publicity, Freeh said.

UNSUPPORTED:  There is no evidence to support that Spanier, Curley, Paterno, and Schultz were aware of Sandusky’s “child abuse” in 1998 and in 2001.  The 1998 case was reported to and investigated by the authorities, who found no “child abuse” occurred, thus there was no “child abuse” to conceal.  The failure to report the allegation pertaining to the 2001 incident is a matter that is pending trial, however two PSU officials recalled the incident was reported to the proper authorities.  Child abuse investigations are confidential in nature, therefore there is not a reasonable expectation that any information about a pending investigation would be shared outside of those immediately involved in an investigation.

-- Curley, Schultz and Spanier were prepared to report the 2001 incident to authorities, but that changed after a conversation Curley had with Paterno. It's not known what was said.

UNSUPPORTED:  Examination of the email evidence in the Freeh Report shows that the initial plan to report the 2001 incident to DPW as an option was in place on February 12, 2001 and remained an option after Paterno talked with Curley.  There was no change to the plan.

-- Cynthia Baldwin, the in-house counsel for Penn State, minimized the seriousness of the investigation when she briefed trustees, Freeh said.

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