Penn State University hired Louis Freeh last November to lead an independent investigation of the alleged failure of Penn State personnel to respond to Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children. Freeh released his 267 page report today, and it is devastating not only to university administrators but also to Joe Paterno himself. Freeh’s report confirms what we already knew about the cover-up. But it also says that Paterno knew about the sex-abuse allegations as far back as 1998 and that he followed the official investigation of those allegations very closely. Here are two excerpts from the report that get to the heart of it:
The most saddening finding by the Special investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims. As the Grand Jury similarly noted in its presentment, there was no “attempt to investigate, to identify Victim 2, or to protect that child or any others from similar conduct except as related to preventing its re-occurrence on University property.” [page 14]
In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the University – Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the University’s Board of Trustees, the Penn State commtmity, and the public at large. [page 16]
Like almost everyone else, I’ve been dismayed by the unfolding scandal at Penn State over the last seven months. Like almost everyone else, I came into it as a great admirer of Joe Paterno. His contribution to his players, to his community, and to college football have been enormous. Yet for all that, his legacy has been totally eclipsed by this enormous failure. There’s no changing that now.
In a letter that Paterno wrote just before he died, he claims that the Sandusky affair is not a “football scandal.” I disagree. It was the worship of Penn State’s football program that enabled Sandusky to groom his victims and that prompted the administration to cover up his crimes. The most powerful administrators on campus—including Paterno—tried to protect the football program by concealing Sandusky’s sexual assaults. If that’s not a football scandal, I don’t know what is.
Here are two great articles on the legacy of Joe Paterno from a Christian perspective:
Here’s Bob Costas’ response to Freeh’s report: