Freeh report on Penn State to be released Thursday
July 11, 2012 12:00 PM
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Former FBI director Louis Freeh has led a team of investigators in the Penn State abuse scandal.
By Mary Niederberger Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A much anticipated and possibly scathing report into what Penn State University officials knew about child sex abuse allegations involving retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and how they handled it will be released Thursday.
The report is the culmination of an unprecedented examination by a team of investigators led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The report will be released online at 9 a.m. Thursday, which will be followed by a 10 a.m. news conference by Mr. Freeh in Philadelphia to discuss the report's findings.
Sandusky was convicted last month on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. The scandal led to the ouster of former Penn State President Graham Spanier and former head football coach Joe Paterno. It also resulted in charges against retired vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley, who are accused of perjury for their grand jury testimony and failing to properly report suspected child abuse.
Mr. Spanier has not been charged.
The imminent release of the report had been rumored for days before it was announced Tuesday, the same day that attorneys for Mr. Spanier released a statement announcing that he denied knowledge of any child abuse during his time as president.
The statement also said that Mr. Spanier requested a meeting with Mr. Freeh's investigators, which was held on Friday.
Earlier reports suggested Mr. Spanier would not participate in the investigation until he received copies of emails he sent and received during his tenure at the university. Mr. Spanier filed suit in May to retrieve the emails he said he needed to refresh his memory in preparation for his participation in the university's internal investigation. A hearing on the matter is set for Aug. 17 in Centre County.
Mr. Spanier's suit asked that a judge order the university to turn over emails from 1998 to 2004. But Penn State officials said state prosecutors instructed the university not to release the emails because it could compromise the ongoing investigation.
The statement released by Mr. Spanier's attorneys Tuesday said: "Selected leaks, without the full context, are distorting the public record and creating a false picture. At no time in the more than 16 years of his presidency at Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct or criminality of any kind, and he reiterated that during his interview with Louis Freeh and his colleagues."
The statement was provided by attorneys Peter Vaira and Elizabeth Ainslie. Ms. Ainslie refused to respond to any questions about the news release.
Mr. Freeh and his law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, were retained by Penn State last November. The statement from Mr. Freeh's office said the release of the report will mark the first time anyone outside of his investigative team will receive the report, including the Penn State board of trustees.
David La Torre, a spokesman for Penn State, said the university will respond to the Freeh report Thursday in Scranton where the board of trustees will be meeting.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the state attorney general, declined to comment on Mr. Spanier speaking with the Freeh investigators. "Given the ongoing nature of our grand jury investigation, we cannot comment," he said.
Anthony Lubrano, who was elected to the Penn State board of trustees on July 1 after criticizing how the firing of Paterno was handled, said he was glad Mr. Spanier had spoken to investigators.
"It will help to render a report that will get us closer to the truth, something that Coach Paterno wanted for all of us," Mr. Lubrano said.
Mr. Spanier resigned as university president in November, shortly after Sandusky was charged, and is currently on sabbatical from his faculty position at PSU. Paterno died in January of lung cancer.
Mr. Spanier's statement Tuesday appears to contradict the content of emails that were leaked to some media outlets early this month that indicated Penn State officials intended in 2001 to report to authorities child sex abuse allegations against Sandusky. But the officials later reversed course after discussing the matter with Paterno.
CNN and NBC cited an email that was sent by Mr. Schultz to Mr. Curley, two weeks after graduate assistant Mike McQueary informed Paterno that he had witnessed what he believed was Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a shower.
According to the Feb. 26, 2001 email, Mr. Schultz suggested relaying the allegation to Sandusky, his charity, The Second Mile, and the state Department of Welfare. But according to the news reports, Mr. Curley emailed Mr. Spanier the next day, saying that after further consideration and speaking with Paterno, he wanted to try to work with Sandusky before involving authorities.
CNN said Mr. Spanier responded in an email saying he concurred, calling it "humane and a reasonable way to proceed."
But, he noted: "the only downside for us is if message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it, but that can be assessed down the road."
Attorneys for Mr. Spanier and the Paterno family criticized the leak of the emails. Wick Sollers, who represents the Paterno family, called on the Freeh Group and state Attorney General Linda Kelly to release all emails and records.
In a lengthy statement Tuesday, the Paterno family reiterated its criticism of the leak of emails and said Paterno did not seek to cover up any information and at one point scheduled a news conference that was canceled by university officials.
The family said it asked the Freeh Group for an opportunity to respond to the reports about the emails on behalf of the late coach.
The statement said the family was told it could respond to the details in the public release of the report.
The Freeh investigation was supposed to go back to 1975 in order to encompass most of Sandusky's time at Penn State and the entire tenure of The Second Mile charity he formed for at-risk youth. Prosecutors said Sandusky met his victims through the charity.
Recent reports on the investigation have suggested that the probe went beyond the Sandusky case at the intervention of Penn State athletic department officials in the university's discipline proceedings involving student athletes, particularly football players.
Mr. Lubrano said the news reports have not made him question his opinion of Mr. Paterno.
Maribeth Schmidt, spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said her organization is waiting for the release of the Freeh report before making an official statement.
The sex abuse scandal has been a public relations nighmare for Penn State, the commonwealth's flagship university. And it has been costly as well.
According to information on its progress.psu website, the university has spent more than $7.6 million on internal investigations and crisis communications in relation to the scandal.
In addition to Mr. Freeh's law firm, other groups that have been paid include Reed Smith LLP, Ketchum, Kekst and Co. Inc., Domus Inc., and The Academy Group.
The university said it expects those expenses to be reimbursed under its insurance policies.
Ms. Schmidt said later today she will release a checklist of important questions that need to be answered in the Freeh report.
"It will be like 'your guide to the Freeh report, a checklist of the most important questions.' You will be able to check off what we think is the most valuable information," Ms. Schmidt said.