Penn State trustees could face scrutiny by internal panel

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State Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis would not rule out the possibility today that Penn State University trustees would face scrutiny from a campus investigative panel seeking to ascertain what campus leaders knew about child sex abuse allegations and if they responded properly.

Mr. Tomalis said in a brief phone interview this afternoon when asked if the possibility that current or former board members knew of the assault allegations had or would be explored.

"That's one of the things that the committee will be looking at," Mr. Tomalis, a Penn State trustee and vice chair of the committee, said.

He declined to elaborate but said the committee is charged with exploring all aspects of the matter.

It will "look at the relationship(s) and culture that led us to this incident," he said. "The investigation will take us wherever it goes."

Penn State trustees announced the panel amid a child sex abuse scandal that led to the firing last Wednesday of football coach Joe Paterno and the resignation of President Graham Spanier.

They and others faced withering criticism for Penn State's failure to alert law enforcement to allegations that retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted a boy in a campus shower in 2002.

Penn State has not identified the full list of members who will sit on the special investigative committee, but officials have suggested in recent days that the panel will be limited to those with universities ties.

Observers ranging from watchdog groups and ethicists to those who have sat on such committees say having independent members with no ties to the institution can lend more credibility to findings.

Mr. Tomalis said he would be comfortable with a panel limited to trustees, students, faculty and alumni at Penn State, noting that there are other inquiries underway. He said the campus panel will employ resources including the work of outside counsel.

Mr. Tomalis said he only serves as a Penn State trustee because of his role as Education Secretary and did not attend the university.

The committee's chair, Penn State trustee and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday regarding the committee's makeup.


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