Monday, October 27

Former SITF Members Should Be Prohibited From Tomorrow's Vote

The former members of the SITF should be excluded from tomorrow's vote due to their conflict of interest regarding the Freeh investigation.

Ray Blehar

Tomorrow's history making vote on Al Lord's resolution to "complete the Freeh investigation" most assuredly calls into question the proper oversight of the Freeh investigation by the Special Investigations Task Force (SITF).  

As such, the SITF members have a conflict of interest in taking part on a vote that could determine that the task force fell short of their responsibilities.

According the press release on November 8th, 2012, the SITF was charged with the following:

At its regular meeting on Friday, November 11, 2011, the Board will appoint a Special Committee, members of which are currently being identified, to undertake a full and complete investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to the Grand Jury Report. This Special Committee will be commissioned to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable. The Special Committee will have whatever resources are necessary to thoroughly fulfill its charge, including independent counsel and investigative teams, and there will be no restrictions placed on its scope or activitiesUpon the completion of this investigation, a complete report will be presented at a future public session of the Board of Trustees.  Penn State has always strived for honesty, integrity and the highest moral standards in all of its programs. We will not tolerate any violation of these principles. We educate over 95,000 students every year and we take this responsibility very seriously. We are dedicated to protecting those who are placed in our care. We promise you that we are committed to restoring public trust in the University." 

The SITF Fell Short

A fair review of the passage reveals that SITF failed to fulfill their charges. Specifically:

1.  The SITF did not hold Freeh to conducting a full investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to the Grand Jury Report.

The Freeh investigation covered Sandusky's crimes from 1998 forward.  However, the Amended Bill of Particulars of May 18, 2012 identified that Sandusky committed crimes against Victim 7 (on and off campus) in 1995 and 1996.  These crimes (convictions for attempted indecent assault, corruption of minors, and endangering the welfare of children) occurred before there is any record of PSU officials being aware of Sandusky's behavior.  Who was responsible for enabling Sandusky's crimes against Victim 7 and have they been held accountable?

2.  The SITF did not correct/revise scope of Freeh's investigation.  

The Freeh Engagement letter stated:

a.       “perform an independent, full, and complete investigation of the recently publicized allegations of sexual abuse at the facilities and the alleged failures of The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) personnel to report such sexual abuse to appropriate police and government authorities.”

The SITF did not revise the statement to:
a. Broaden the scope of the investigation to include individuals other than PSU personnel.
b. Strike the words "appropriate police and" from the statement.  Under 23 Pa.C.S.§ 6313, which states reports should be made to the Department of Public Welfare or the county agency, there is no requirement to make a report to police. 

3.  The SITF has never made a presentation of the Freeh Report at a public session of the Board of Trustees.

While it's rather obvious there has not been a complete investigation, the Freeh Report has never been presented at a public session of the Board.

4.  The SITF disbanded before it fulfilled its obligations.

Based on emails uncovered by Ryan Bagwell's Right-To-Know efforts, Ken Frazier considered the work of the task force complete just two days after the issuance by Freeh and before a full review of the Freeh Report could be undertaken by the Board.

 Conflict of Interest 

According to the By-Laws (page 36) of the PSU Board of Trustees:

"a conflict of interest exists when a reasonable observer, having knowledge of all the relevant facts and circumstances, would conclude that a Trustee has an actual or apparent conflict of interest in a matter related to the University."

The remaining members of the BOT who were members of the SITF include:  Kenneth Frazier, Mark Dambly, Keith Eckel, and Karen Peetz.  

Frazier went on the record on July 12, 2012, thanking "Judge Freeh for his diligence in uncovering the facts in the last eight months and issuing such a comprehensive and thorough report today."

Since the time Frazier made the statement, considerable information has come to light showing that Freeh:

Peetz and Frazier praised Freeh Report and
accepted responsibility for "failures."
-- excluded email evidence relating to the 1998 incident from the report;
-- excluded Appendices 1, 4, 7, 8, and 9 from the report;
-- wrongly concluded Paterno was actively involved in the concealment of information;
-- lied about his team making independent discovery of the email evidence;
-- lied about his team finding the Schultz file in conjunction with the OAG;
-- did not properly reflect the trial testimony in the Victim 8 incident; and, 
-- incorrectly stated the crimes against Victims 5, 6, and 7.

As pressure mounted as the evidence against the validity of the report became obvious, Frazier staunchly defended the report.  After a tirade in response to a question by alumnus Bill Cluck, the Merck CEO stated:

“It is crystal clear that we, as a board, cannot and should not reinvestigate the Freeh investigation.” 

Read more here:

Peetz also went on the record the same day and stated the Board "accepted responsibility for the failures that occurred," in effect accepting the findings of the Freeh Report on behalf of PSU (prior to a vote of the Board taking place).  

The former board chair also stated that the Board would conduct a full analysis of the Freeh Report, but later (at 1:27) contradicted herself, the Freeh Engagement letter, and the SITF's charter by stating that the investigation was only for the purpose of getting recommendations for   improving governance.

"We do not intend to do an independent review.  Because that's not part of what we commissioned the report for. We commissioned the report so we could have a set of recommendations for how we could improve our governance."

Eckel: "..not our
Keith Eckel also went on the record in an attempt to duck responsibility for Freeh's findings of culpability, which was in conflict with their charter as provided on November 8, 2011.

“Comments were made as far as the conclusions Judge Freeh reached as far as the culpability of individuals. We didn't, nor did we ever, feel that that was our responsibility,” Eckel said. “We’re not challenging Judge Freeh’s conclusions. We’re only indicating that those conclusions have no role in our implementation of Freeh’s recommendations.”

Dambly backpedaled too.
 Mark Dambly similarly backed away from the SITF's oversight role in determining who was responsible for enabling Sandusky's crimes.  However, his statement that the PSU officials would go through their process was nothing more that letting PSU officials be convicted in the court of public opinion, which was driven by the Freeh Report.

"The four people spoken about most in the report, we're certainly not going to take a position on their guilt or innocence," trustee Mark Dambly later told reporters. "They'll go through their process ... We're going to allow that process to play out in the courts."


Clearly, these four individuals failed in their responsibilities to properly oversee the Freeh investigation and, later, three of four made false statements about the purpose of the SITF as the public began to raise the issue of alumni questioning the validity of the Freeh Report.  

Tomorrow's vote on the completing the Freeh Report will determine if PSU believes in accountability and transparency.  

Those who have already shown their lack of accountability should be excluded from the vote.


  1. Good point. They should not have a vote.

  2. I hope you will be there tomorrow to present these facts to the BOT before the discussion starts.

  3. Re Exckel: "We’re not challenging Judge Freeh’s conclusions. We’re only indicating that those conclusions have no role in our implementation of Freeh’s recommendations.”

    What an absurd premise. To not understand the 'why' of the recommendations, which form the foundation and basis for any future recommendations, is to blindly implement procedures without understanding how they will help. Not that Eckel cares about that.