STATE COLLEGE, Pa. —
Former FBI chief Louis Freeh and his investigators have conducted 200 interviews in their extensive investigation of the alleged child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, asking questions that go beyond the charges against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and into the relationship between the football program and the administration.
Since November, when the Penn State Board of Trustees hired his group to examine the Sandusky case, Freeh’s team has talked to people ranging from high-level administrators to retired secretaries to current and former staffers in the athletic department. That includes many employees who worked at the football building while the late Joe Paterno was coach.
The trustees also are among those to be questioned, said board chairwoman Karen Peetz, who told The Associated Press that 200 people have been interviewed in all.
As Freeh seeks to fulfill his mission – he is charged with finding out how Penn State failed to stop an alleged predator in its midst and with recommending changes aimed at preventing abuse – board members facing criticism are stressing anew that the former federal judge and his team have complete independence. They see the breadth of his investigation as a sign of that.
“They’re extremely reputable, impeccable credentials, a mandate to investigate thoroughly,” trustee Joel Myers said after a board meeting last week in Hershey. “Let the chips fall where they may so we come out of this a better institution.”
Trustees ousted Paterno on Nov. 9, four days after Sandusky was charged with dozens of sexual assault counts. Eight of 10 boys Sandusky is accused of abusing were attacked on campus, including at the football facilities, prosecutors allege.
While the charges shocked the Penn State community, Paterno’s forced departure after 61 years with the school outraged many former players and alumni, who assert the trustees acted rashly.
Some alumni watchdog groups question whether Freeh’s report will be a whitewash.
Penn State is offering free child-abuse counseling services to the alleged victims of Sandusky.
The university described the arrangement with Praesidium Inc., an abuse risk management company, as a way to fulfill a commitment made by school officials after Sandusky was charged.