Penn State’s Culture of Reverence Led to ‘Total Disregard’ for Children’s Safety
A reverence for football was largely to blame for a series of missteps by top Pennsylvania State University administrators in failing to report repeated allegations of child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky, according to an independent report released on Thursday.
Two Penn State officials—Graham B. Spanier, the university’s former president, and Joe Paterno, the revered coach—took the brunt of criticism in the report. They and other top leaders displayed a “total disregard for the safety and welfare” of children, the report says, and hid critical facts from authorities about the alleged abuses.
The report, the culmination of an eight-month investigation by Louis J. Freeh, the former FBI director commissioned by the university’s Board of Trustees, also describes repeated breakdowns in board governance and a failure of university officials to carry out provisions of the Clery Act, the federal law requiring the reporting of crimes like the ones Mr. Sandusky committed. He was convicted last month on 45 counts of molesting children.
In a televised news conference in Philadelphia, Mr. Freeh stopped short of describing a cover-up by university officials, instead saying that senior leaders had “repeatedly concealed facts.” But various e-mails and documents suggest that Mr. Spanier and Mr. Paterno, along with Gary C. Schultz, the former senior vice president for finance and business, and Timothy M. Curley, the athletic director now on administrative leave, knew for years about the sexual nature of accusations against Mr. Sandusky and kept them under wraps.