Freeh Report Exonerates Paterno,
Excoriates PSU Administrators and Board
July 14, 2012
If you get your news second hand—from any media outlet but especially the mainstream, liberal biased media—you would think Louis Freeh’s Report of the Special Investigative Counsel Regarding the Actions of The Pennsylvania State University Related to the Child Sexual Abuse Committed by Gerald A. Sandusky denigrates Coach Joe Paterno. It doesn’t. The “scathing report” takes some shots at Paterno but, as will be shown in this e-pamphlet and which you can investigate yourself directly from the Freeh report, in nearly all cases the insinuations are off the mark and unsupported by evidence. They are positions taken for politically correctness reasons—as bad a rationale as there is for taking any position.
On November 21, 2011, the Special Investigative Counsel was asked “to perform an independent, full and complete investigation” of the Sandusky scandal and weak response to it by PSU. Their investigation was not “full and complete” as they did not interview:
· Former Coach and convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky
· The District Attorney at the time of the 1998 shower incident (that former DA has been declared dead after being missing for several years)
· The prosecutor assigned to the 1998 Sandusky investigation
· The boy involved in the Lasch Building shower incident in 2001
· Former Senior VP of Finance and Business Gary C Schultz (criminally charged with perjury and failing to report allegations of child abuse)
· Former Athletic Director Timothy M Curley (same criminal charges as Schultz)
· Former outside legal counsel Wendell Courtney
· Former Director of Public Safety Thomas Harmon
· Former Coach Michael McQueary
· Former Coach Joe Paterno (who intended to be interviewed but died from cancer, a broken heart, and multiple stabs in the back)
Freeh’s was a relatively full and complete investigation. It is a bit problematic that, in the second page of the report (excluding 7 pages of a table of contents), the claim is made that the Counsel:
“Analyz[ed] over 3.5 million pieces of pertinent electronic data and documents”
There were 235 days from the commissioning of the Counsel to the presentation of its report, meaning if every day was a working day, 15,000 pieces of data and documents were analyzed each day. Assuming the Counsel members did not work weekends and holidays, there were only 150 days of effort. Meaning 23,333 pieces of data and documents were analyzed daily or (if they worked 8 hour days) 48 pieces per minute. That doesn’t include time spent conducting 430 interviews (how many were really needed?) and the writing of the report. To say the Counsel “analyzed” that much information is an extreme exaggeration if not an outright lie made to inflate the perception of the thoroughness of its investigation.
When reviewing high visibility documents like this Report, keep in mind their authors often develop a bloated sense of importance and omniscience. The above is just one such example. The most common and repeated mistake made in the report is lumping Paterno with indicted University administrators (Schultz and Curley) and their apologist former President Graham B Spanier, and treating them as birds of a feather. For example, on page 14:
These [four] men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.
Paterno reported the 2001 incident the day after it was reported to him (an incident he did not personally witness) to his boss (Curley) for further investigation and action. Paterno acted on the information. The other three men failed to investigate or act on it. Only someone investigating the alleged assault is to be identifying the child. Reporting to the Board of Trustees is Spanier’s responsibility (p.98). The Freeh report inappropriately groups Paterno with the other three men; attempting to tie their failings to him. Paterno’s assessment was far more accurate when he told a reporter, “1 didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the University procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way. In hindsight, I wish I had done more.” (Note that based on the Freeh report, Paterno was the only person to make a statement of remorse.)
The Freeh report incorrectly refers to a 1998 incident as having involved “child sexual abuse allegations” (p.15). It then tries to imply with weak evidence that Paterno knew details of this incident. (Curley notified Schultz and Spanier that he had “touched base with” Paterno about the incident and then days later he emailed Schultz: “Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” (p.20)) The Paterno family denies it. Paterno in his testimony to the Grand Jury more than 12 years after the incident, denied it (p.53). If he knew anything, it wasn’t details. In any case, that incident involved Sandusky showering with an 11-year old boy, bear hugging him, and lifting him up in the shower to rinse off his hair. Certainly inappropriate and somewhat perverse behavior, but it was investigated by law enforcement authorities including the DA’s office and counselors and not pursued because it was deemed non-criminal activity. Even if Paterno knew all about this incident, there was nothing illegal or immoral to hide. Yet the report, on multiple occasions, links the 1998 and 2001 incidents as if they are equally criminal.
The night of February 9, 2001, graduate assistant Michael McQueary saw Sandusky apparently sexually molesting a prepubescent boy in a shower. (p.66) He interrupted them, they separated and he left. On his Dad’s advice, he called Paterno the next morning then visited his home. McQueary told Paterno he saw Sandusky and “a young boy in the shower and that it was way over the lines.” Recalling the activity as “extremely sexual in nature,” McQueary described the “rough positioning” of Sandusky and the boy “but not in very much detail” and without using the terms “sodomy” or “anal intercourse.”
Paterno told the Grand Jury in 2011 that he recalled having this discussion with McQueary and that McQueary told him he saw Sandusky “fondling, whatever you might call it – I’m not sure what the term would be – a young boy” in the showers at the Lasch Building. Paterno explained, “[o]bviously, he was doing something with the youngster. It was a sexual nature. I’m not sure exactly what it was. I didn’t push Mike to describe exactly what it was because he was very upset.” McQueary testified that Paterno’s response was that he [Paterno] needed to “tell some people about what you saw” and would let McQueary know what would happen next. After Sandusky’s arrest, Paterno told a reporter that he told McQueary, “I said you did what you had to do. It’s my job now to figure out what we want to do.” Paterno, as a Coach, demonstrated his clear sense of responsibility being passed up the chain of command.
The next day Paterno called Curley, his boss. Curley and Schultz visited Paterno in his home where he passed along the information McQueary had given him, perhaps unintentionally adding another layer of vagueness to it. Schultz said the “allegations came across as not that serious.” There may have been a level of denial or it was overly filtered third hand foggy information. That day, Schultz called PSU’s outside legal counsel, Wendell Courtney about the “reporting of suspected child abuse.” Courtney declined to be interviewed by the Special Investigative Counsel so his 2.9 hour legal work billed to PSU for that day is unknown. Within two weeks, McQueary met with Curley and Schultz and gave them his still vague but plenty clear enough description of what he had witnessed. By February 26, Spanier, Schultz, and Curley planned to:
1) Talk with Sandusky about not bringing boys to University facilities in the future
2) Contact the chair of Second Mile about Sandusky (Second Mile is the non-profit organization for underprivileged youth that Sandusky founded and devoted much of his time and from which he lured young boys)
3) Contact the Department of Welfare.
The next day, Curley emailed Schultz and Spanier that he had talked with Paterno and thought about it more and that he now preferred to:
1) Meet with Sandusky and tell him about the new allegation and the University’s awareness of the 1998 incident. Curley would tell Sandusky the administration believed he had a problem and they would assist him in getting professional help. Schultz’s own notes include this: “Unless he [Sandusky] confesses to having a problem, [Curley] will indicate we need to have Department of Welfare review the matter as an independent agency concerned w child welfare.” (p.22)
2) Second Mile leadership would be informed about the situation. If Sandusky is cooperative, they would help him tell Second Mile; if not then the incident would be reported to the Department of Welfare.
3) Sandusky will be told that his guests are not permitted to use PSU facilities.
A day later, Spanier and Schultz each emailed their support for this change in direction.
This is a problem. None of these three men investigated the incident sufficiently to determine if there was a crime (McQueary’s account was sufficient to suspect there was), they did not involve law enforcement officials to make that assessment, and they didn’t necessarily plan to engage the Department of Welfare for the benefit of the boy and perhaps past victims. They compounded that problem by not following this new plan. Curley met with Sandusky and afterwards, on his own (he was supposed to assist Sandusky in the meeting), met with the Second Mile executive director (who declined to be interviewed by the Special Investigative Counsel). The executive director and two Second Mile Trustees decided it was a non-event and took no further action (Curley apparently under-reported it as “nothing inappropriate” (p.64)). There is no record of Sandusky getting counseling, hence he was not “cooperative,” yet the Department of Welfare was not notified of the incident. Further, though he was not to bring his “guests” to PSU facilities—both Curley and the Second Mile executive told him that—Sandusky continued to do so.
In the worst case, from the perspective of Paterno’s culpability, Paterno convinced Curley to change the plan so that the Department of Welfare would not be involved unless Sandusky was uncooperative. (There is no hard evidence to indicate Paterno was at least partly responsible for the plan change but it is not a completely unreasonable assumption). Yet Sandusky was uncooperative and the Department of Welfare was still not engaged. The plan Spanier, Schultz, and Curley agreed to and for which they were responsible for executing—even if it was fully devised by Paterno—was not followed. That’s why the Department of Welfare, and through them law enforcement officials, were not contacted. Paterno’s failure—to which he admitted—is that he trusted administration officials of higher position and responsibility. (A personal side note; administrators, bureaucrats and those that play politics are generally not to be trusted with matters of importance.)
In his statements to McQueary, reporters, and the Grand Jury there is a naiveté Paterno conveys about the sexual abuse of children; as if the concept is somewhat beyond his comprehension. He was a man from much less crude times living a noble life. Worldly about football, about building character in young men, about living a life of high integrity and morality, Paterno was innocent about this darkest side of humanity. As traveled as he was, as many people as he had known, as rich as his life had been, it is likely that in his first 75 years, he had never encountered the sexual molestation of children. When it was suggested a long-time friend was seen sexually abusing a child, it wouldn’t be surprising for Paterno to depend on trusted others to handle these exceptional circumstances.
Some have argued Paterno was morally culpable for allowing Sandusky continued access to PSU football facilities for ten years after the 2001 shower incident. But Paterno’s hands were largely tied. In June 1999, a retirement agreement the University reached with Sandusky (signed by Curley—Exhibit 3H in the Report) included a lump sum payment of $168,000, an agreement for the University to “work collaboratively” with Sandusky on Second Mile and other community activities, and free lifetime use of East Area Locker Room facilities. In August 1999, Sandusky was granted “emeritus” rank, which carries several privileges, including access to University recreational facilities. Documents show the unusual request for emeritus rank originated from Schultz, was approved by Spanier, and granted by the Provost. In March 2011, PSU General Counsel Cynthia Baldwin informed the athletic staff that the University could not take Sandusky’s keys to athletic facilities because of his emeritus status and the fact that he had not been charged with a crime—it would expose the University to a lawsuit. (p.106) It was University administrators who gave Sandusky access to the athletic department facilities and the agreement they signed with him that prevented his access from being blocked. This was not Paterno’s doing. The only way Paterno could have legally blocked Sandusky’s access would be to get him charged with a crime. To do that he would have to pull responsibility back from his management for an investigation (going to law enforcement authorities), risking the careers of Curley and Schultz (and perhaps Spanier), the name and legacy of Sandusky (a friend of 30 years), and the University’s reputation all based on second hand information that McQueary was somewhat vague about. Had McQueary made up the story or been mistaken, Paterno could have been seen as a senile old fool damaging those around him (he was 75 years old in 2001).
After the 1998 incident, Sandusky was told not to shower with boys again. He agreed. When Sandusky proposed his continued “access to training and workout facilities” after his retirement in 1999, a handwritten note (maintained by Paterno) indicates the facilities are not to be used for Second Mile kids (for liability problems). (p.51) After the 2001 incident, Sandusky was told not to bring children on campus. None of the above stopped him from bringing boys on campus, showering with them, or molesting them. In 2012, Curley agreed that there was no “practical way to enforce [Sandusky] not bringing children onto the campus” after he was warned not to do so. (p.79)
The Freeh Report data shows only one thing that Paterno might have done wrong; he may not have complied with the Clery Act that was originally passed by Congress in 1990. The Clery Act’s purpose is to provide an Institution’s students, parents, and employees with information about campus safety so that members of the campus community can make informed decisions to protect themselves from crime. Per this act, Paterno was in a role (as a coach) that had responsibility for reporting allegations made in good faith of certain crimes (including sexual assault). The Report is not clear about conditions under which allegations are to be reported. It incorrectly states that a “timely warning” of Clery Crimes would have pertained for the Sandusky allegations—but that is untrue according to the Report itself. Timely warnings of Clery Crimes are to be made if they are “considered by the Institution to represent a threat to students and employees.” (p.114) Sandusky was a threat to young boys, not students or employees. Further, though in theory the Clery Act would apply to Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno in their respective roles, as recently as November 2011 the University’s Clery Act policy was still in draft form and had not been implemented (p.110). The Freeh Report states the University administrative controls included over 350 policies and related procedures. Paterno, as a Coach, also had responsibility for adhering to hundreds of NCAA rules and regulations. Ignorance of some of a ridiculous number of rules, policies, procedures, and regulations is neither surprising nor wrong. (Personally, I wouldn’t trust someone who knew them all.) Of course the Freeh Report is recommending additional rules, procedures, and policies.
In addition to documenting unethical and likely criminal behavior of Spanier, Schultz, and Curley, the Freeh Report hammers the 32 member Board of Trustees; something that has not been done by the media but has been done by PSU alumni. The Report claims the Board of Trustees (p.15):
· Did not perform its oversight duties
· Did not create an environment where senior University officials felt accountable
· Did not recognize the potential risk to the University (after becoming aware of the Grand Jury testimony) and failed to inquire reasonably and to demand detailed information from Spanier
· Was overconfident in Spanier and had a complacent attitude
· Poorly handled communications with the public
· Poorly handled the removal of Paterno as head football coach.
And the penalty for the Board will be…what? Firing? Criminal charges? Fines? To date, apparently not even bad press.
Consider the Board’s incompetence in the firing of Joe Paterno. When the Trustees met on November 9, 2011 they quickly reached a “clear consensus” that Spanier would be terminated without cause. (p.94) The Freeh Report indicates this was not a “unanimous decision” as the Paterno firing was publicly described by Vice Chair John Surma. The Freeh Report then relates the “decision to terminate Paterno was more difficult.” It is almost impossible to believe that all of the Trustees participating in these decisions agreed that Paterno should be fired (he had already announced his pending resignation) when they didn’t reach that conclusion about the less popular and possibly criminally negligent Spanier. (The report does not indicate how many of the 32 Trustees participated in the decision). That strongly suggests that Vice Chair John Surma, who announced the firing of Paterno, was bald-face lying and compromising the integrity of others on the board who disagreed with that decision. (Some notes about John Surma. When he became CEO of US Steel in February 2006 the price of its stock was $55 a share. It is now $20.24—a drop of more than 63% in value over a time when the Dow Jones was up nearly 19%. That stock price drop represents a decline in the company’s value of over $5 billion. Surma was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and currently serves as its vice chairman. This is not a man whose judgment is worth trusting.)
From the Freeh Report here is what board members said about the decision to fire Paterno. If they seem like confused loons or childish egotists; well, draw your own conclusions (p.94):
· Some felt Paterno could have done more after learning about Sandusky’s activities. (As if there is ever a maximum amount one could do; d’uh. The FBI reports that only 1% to 10% of child sexual abuse cases are reported to police. Paterno reported the alleged abuse, not to the police but to his superiors. He had done what some 90% of people wouldn’t do.)
· Some recall former athletes stating that Paterno had tremendous control over what happened in his program. (Can anyone name a head coach of a major university football team that doesn’t have tremendous control over their program? Does anyone ever have complete control?)
· Several were “disturbed” by Paterno’s “attempt to usurp the Board’s role” by discussing his retirement plans for the end of the season and holding his own press conference. (By far the greatest public interest in an individual at that time was in Paterno. He acted, under terrible conditions, in what he thought were in the best interests of the University. He effectively said, “In a month I will give up my lifeblood.” These “disturbed Board members” wanted it now. To hell with the 60+ years he had already given the University.)
· Some said Paterno could not continue to function as coach in the current environment and had become a distraction. (They presumed to know better than Paterno about Paterno’s ability to function as a coach? Because of his aura and recognized greatness, Paterno’s presence has been a “distraction” for decades. The scandal would be a distraction for the team and whoever was coaching. Paterno would handle it for the team and school better than anyone else.)
· PA Governor Thomas Corbett participated in the meeting via phone. Some Trustees (including Corbett) said he didn’t especially assert himself while others described him as vocal and playing a leadership role. (These were people in the same meeting differing on something that would be fundamentally obvious to people who are capable of working on teams and in meetings.)
· Governor Corbett said the Board needed to take decisive action or there might be a loss of support for Penn State. (Allowing Paterno to resign in a month wouldn’t be considered decisive action? Firing him immediately wouldn’t result in a loss of support for Penn State? And this guy is a Governor? He clearly favored a politically correct, gutless decision.)
· Just before the vote, Governor Corbett said something like, “I hope you’ll remember the children.” (An inappropriate, non-rational argument meant to play on the emotions of Board members. It was a juvenile tactic that could only be effective with other juveniles.)
· Some Trustees felt the decision on Paterno’s future was rushed and not sufficient for the situation. One said the Board was seeking to act quickly and was “getting in front of the facts” when the situation called for more deliberate action. (There were some adults in the room but too few and too unpersuasive.)
The Report states “The Board did not explore the range of personnel actions available to them regarding Paterno’s role in the football program before the Board concluded that Paterno should be removed as Head Football Coach. … [T]o inform Paterno of the decision to remove him from his position, the Board directed a staff member from the Athletic Department to deliver a note to Paterno at his home. The note directed Paterno to call a phone number that belonged to Surma. When Paterno called, Surma advised him that the Board was removing him from his position as Head Football Coach. Paterno ended the call without speaking further to Surma.” (p.96)
There is nothing in the report that indicates the Board considered what firing Paterno would do to an 85 year old man whose life was inextricably entwined with being the Head Coach of the Penn State football team. I wasn’t the only one who, after Paterno was fired, claimed that JoePa wouldn’t live six months. He died just 73 days after he was fired. Paterno’s blood is at least partly on the Board’s hands. Would they have made the same decision if they thought it would end Paterno’s life in the near future? Is political correctness that important to them? How ignorant could they have been not to realize the likely consequences of the decision to fire Paterno?
The day after the Freeh Report was released, Penn State Board of Trustees chair Karen Peetz acknowledged that the Report showed the Board failed to provide proper oversight. "The Board accepts full responsibility," she said. "We will take every action to make sure events like these never happen again." She said the Board takes the recommendations seriously, and starting immediately will undertake a number of first steps to make sure a similar "collapse in leadership" is avoided.
If the Board “accepts full responsibility,” it should have the same sentence as Sandusky. At the very least they should all be fired. Peetz clearly didn’t mean what she said. Further, the Board won’t “take every action to make sure events like these never happen again.” As long as people are involved, there will be cases in which poor judgment or bad people will hurt others and cover-ups will occur. That can’t be prevented from ever happening. Peetz is wrong again. She’s wrong a third time when she says there are a number of steps that can be undertaken to ensure a “collapse in leadership” can be avoided. Non-leaders attain positions of leadership (look at our President, look at Peetz being chair of the PSU Board of Trustees) and they can cause various degrees of collapse no matter what processes are in place (processes, laws and Constitutions can be ignored.) There can be no guarantees against a “collapse in leadership.” Peetz was parroting the inaccurate statement Trustee Kenneth C. Frazier made when announcing the investigation: “No one is above scrutiny. [Freeh] has complete rein to follow any lead, to look into every corner of the University to get to the bottom of what happened and then to make recommendations that ensure that it never happens again.” With absolutely no changes, what is the likelihood of this type of scandal happening again at Penn State? How many times has it happened at any other university or college? What possible rules and processes could prevent people from doing bad things? This is ignorance, incompetence, or both on parade. Here is one more drum major, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett after the release of the Freeh Report: “This case is of such significance that I hope people will learn from it, and we will see that the failure to protect children does not happen again.” And after we ensure there will never again be a failure to protect children, we’ll ban disease, hunger, and death. Why didn’t we think of these things before?
Exhibit 3D of the report is an example of Paterno’s priorities. In early 1998, before any awareness of Sandusky’s predilections, Paterno told Sandusky he would not be the head coach at Penn State saying, “I probably should have sat down with you 6 or 7 years ago and said, ‘look Jerry, if you want to be the Head Coach at Penn State, give up your association with the Second Mile and concentrate on nothing but your family and Penn State. Don’t worry about the Second Mile—you don’t have the luxury of doing both. One will always demand a decision of preference. You are too deeply involved in both.’” (p.199) For Paterno, Penn State was his extended family and family deserved total focus. His 60+ year career was spent at PSU. Though wealthy, Paterno lived modestly and turned down opportunities to make much more money by coaching professional teams. He was generous (having donated more than $4 million to Penn State) and was deeply committed to the University and the young men who passed through his program. Paterno was looked on as a giant by other great men such as Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski. He was admired as a man of integrity, of wit and wisdom, as “Coach” by those who coached opposing teams. He was invited to participate in forums with Supreme Court justices. Paterno was an outstanding American, an icon and a truly great man; eventually brought down then smeared by small minded, ignorant, jealous, psychologically unhealthy individuals. To allow their despicable behavior to go unchallenged is to be part of the lynching of greatness.
Stand tall JoePa! You have been exonerated!