Louis Freeh's Report on the Penn State Shenanigans
Some months ago, the trustees of Penn State University asked former FBI director Louis Freeh to look into allegations that former football coach Joe Paterno, former President Graham Spanier, former Vice-President Gary Shultz, and former Athletic Director Tim Curley conspired to hush up the sexual abuse of minors on and off the campus by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. This morning, Free issued his report. For those of us who had long admired Paterno and the integrity of the football program at Penn State, it makes for unpleasant reading:
Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest.
In sum, all of these men knew about Sandusky's conduct for a very long time. Vis-a-vis the former assistant coach, they sought to follow a course that they regarded as "humane," and they displayed no concern at all for his victims past or prospective. What they feared most was a scandal that would affect the football program and Penn State's ability to rake in donations. With this in mind, they breathed not one word about the matter to the university's trustees. As Freeh puts it,
[I]in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University—Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley—repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large.
None of this is especially surprising. Institutions and those who lead them tend to take self-protection to great lengths. In the name of safeguarding the institution -- whether a corporation, a university, a political party, or a polity -- its leaders are often willing to commit crimes. We have seen it in politics; we have seen it in business; we have seen it in ecclesiastical affairs. We should not be surprised to discover it at a university. High-minded rhetoric and dirtball conduct all too often go hand in hand.
Update: The Freeh report is now available online here. Apparently, football coaches and others on the athletic staff regularly observed Sandusky showering with minors prior to 1998 but, out of deference, reported nothing. One individual, now an adult male, who was not involved in the Sandusky trial reports having been abused by Sandusky in the mid-1990s more than one hundred times -- sometimes in the Penn State showers.