This time, I’m not talking about the Catholic Church. Penn State University has joined the club where administrators put public relations ahead of sexually abused children.
Jerry Sandusky a former Penn State assistant football coach was recently convicted of abusing young boys. While I abhor child abusers, I recognize that the actions of a single individual can be heinous and not reflect on any organization he or she belongs to. However, in this case, the administration of the football program and the university knew about the abuse and did nothing for 14 years.
“The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized,” the investigation concluded.
It cited former Penn State University president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, former head football coach Joe Paterno and Athletic Director Tim Curley, now on leave, as never demonstrating “through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”
The 267 page report was written by former FBI director Louis Freeh.
The Freeh Report said a “critical written correspondence” uncovered earlier this year contained evidence of a proposed plan to report a 2001 incident to law enforcement officials involving Sandusky and a young boy in a university shower room that was witnessed by football assistant coach Michael McQueary.
“After Mr. Curley consulted with Mr. Paterno, however, they changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the authorities,” the report said.
The report said Curley recommended a different course of action to Spanier and Schultz: they would offer Sandusky “professional help;” assist him in informing “his organization” (the Second Mile) about the allegation; and, if Sandusky was “cooperative,” not inform the Department of Public Welfare of the allegation.
“Their failure to protect the … child victim, or make attempts to identify him, created a dangerous situation for other unknown, unsuspecting young boys who were lured to the Penn State campus and football games by Sandusky and victimized repeatedly by him,” the report said.
“Further,” the report said, “they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity, about what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001.”
Citing witness statements and other evidence, the university officials acted “in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity.”
“The most powerful leaders at Penn State University – 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,” the report said.
Their inaction was a deliberate move to protect the reputation of the university, its football program and the reputation of Jerry Sandusky.
The report described Spanier, Paterno, Curley and Schultz as wielding such power at the university that they went “unchecked” by Penn State’s board of trustees and “empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus.”
“Indeed that continued access provided Sandusky with the very currency that enabled him to attract his victims,” the report said. “Some coaches, administrators and football program staff members ignored red flag of Sandusky’s behaviors and no one warned the public about him.”
These men acted against a 1990 US Federal law requiring the reporting of suspected acts of child abuse to authorities.
We have here a group of men who were enablers of a sexual predator they had known about for many years. The man they protected was convicted of abusing 10 boys and there are allegations from many others, including his own stepson. This will cost the university a huge amount of money in settlements, as it has already unnecessarily a large number of boys their youth and more.
I cannot emphasize enough how disgusting this is.