STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and other senior officials “concealed critical facts” about Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse because they were worried about bad publicity, according to an internal investigation into the scandal concluded.
The 267-page report released this morning is the result of an eight-month inquiry by former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by university trustees weeks after Sandusky was arrested in November to look into what has become one of sports’ biggest scandals.
The report concluded that Paterno, president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
“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,” the report said.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts. The scandal led to the ouster of Paterno and the school’s president.
The report also singled out the revered Penn State football program — one built on the motto “success with honor” — for criticism. It says Paterno and university leaders allowed Sandusky to retire in 1999, “not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, with future ‘visibility’ at Penn State’,” allowing him to groom victims.
Sandusky’s trial last month included gut-wrenching testimony from eight young men who said he abused them as boys, sometimes on campus, and included testimony that showed he used his prestige as a university celebrity to manipulate the children.
By contrast, Freeh’s team focused on Penn State and what its employees did — or did not do — to protect children.
More than 430 current or former school employees were interviewed since November, including nearly everyone associated with the football program under Paterno. The Hall of Fame coach died of lung cancer in January at age 85, without telling Freeh’s team his account of what happened.