Paterno and others faulted in sex abuse investigation

by Nickalas Tabbert

Senior officials at Penn State failed to protect children victimized by Jerry Sandusky, according to an independent investigation of the campus’ sexual abuse scandal.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh, who oversaw the investigation of the longtime assistant to coach Joe Paterno, said the most powerful men at Penn State had total disregard for the safety and welfare of the victims, the New York Times said.

At a news conference after releasing the findings, Freeh described interviews with janitors at the school who knew of questionable incidents about Sandusky but did not take action because of fear of the football program and its prominent coaching staff, the Los Angeles Times said.

“If that was the culture at the bottom,” Freeh said, “imagine what the culture was at the top.”

The investigation took seven months and involved more than 400 interviews and the review of more than 3.5 million documents.  It accuses Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier and others of deliberately hiding facts about Sandusky’s sexually predatory behavior over the years, the New York Times said.

“The facts are the facts,” Freeh said of Paterno.  “He was an integral part of the act to conceal.”

According to the investigation report, Paterno knew as far back as 1998 there were concerns Sandusky might be behaving inappropriately with children.  It was during that time campus police investigated a claim by a mother that her son had been molested by Sandusky in a shower at the campus, the New York Times reported.

But in a move to protect the university from bad press, officials tried to keep the scandal an internal matter, investigators said.

The report’s fallout will likely affect the legacy of Paterno, who died of cancer in January.  He and Spanier were forced out of their positions by university trustees after Sandusky was arrested last fall, the Los Angeles Times said.  The other officials are awaiting trial on a variety of charges including perjury and the failure to tell authorities of the child abuse.

The investigation’s findings may hurt the university’s legal liability as it seeks to compensate Sandusky’s victims, and perhaps even the wider world of college athletics, the New York Times said.