A new scathing report on how Penn State University handled allegations of child sexual abuse by a former assistant football coach show a serious failure of moral leadership by the university’s senior officials.
Penn State University’s senior officials and the school’s legendary head football coach, the late Joe Paterno, kept child abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky quiet for more than a decade, leaving him free to prey on other boys, according to a report released last week.
Former FBI director and federal Judge Louis Freeh said the most “saddening and sobering” finding from his group report into the Sandusky child sex scandal is Penn State senior leaders’ “total disregard” for the safety and welfare of the ex-coach’s child abuse victims.
Freeh said that the “most powerful men at Penn State failed” to take any steps for 14 years, referring to Paterno, ex-President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and former senior vice president Gary Schultz.
The investigation concluded that the senior officials ‘concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse” because they were worried about bad publicity.
“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 last month of 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 victims during a span of 15 years.
Sandusky can not be the only one held accountable.
More must be done to send a strong and clear message that intuitional leaders can not abdicate their responsibility to protect the safety and welfare of children.
The NCAA must do its own investigation and impose the toughest penalties.
The state must pursue the possibility of criminal charges against former senior leaders at Penn State.
The scandal led to the ouster of Paterno and Spanier
A change in leadership at Penn State is not enough.
Penn State also needs a change in culture. The university should strip away all its associations with Paterno and remove his name from buildings and anything else bearing his name.
The university’s misplaced priorities gave Paterno too much power and made the entire university subservient to its football program.
Although the report showed no evidence that the Penn State Board of Trustees was aware of the allegations regarding Sandusky until this year the board can not escape criticism.
In the future the university’s board of trustees must exercise a more active oversight role.
Penn State University is a fine institution of higher education that lost its moral compass in the pursuit of the money and prestige of college football.
Penn State has to put education first again.