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September 1, 2014, 5:26 pm

Local, national reaction to Freeh report

There has been swift reaction to former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s scathing report on the mishandling of child rape allegations against former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky by some of the most powerful men at the institution, including longtime head football coach Joe Paterno, who died in January.

“The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept. The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn’t fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events. Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone — law enforcement, his family, coaches, players, neighbors, university officials, and everyone at Second Mile,” said the Paterno family in a statement.

The NCAA issued a statement regarding report.

“Like everyone else, we are reviewing the final report for the first time today. As President Emmert wrote in his Nov. 17 letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson and reiterated this week, the university has four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies, to which it now needs to respond. Penn State’s response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action. We expect Penn State’s continued cooperation in our examination of these issues.”

PSU’s board of directors released a statement hours after Freeh’s document was made public.

“Today with the report released by Judge Louis Freeh, the Penn State Board of Trustees delivered on the commitment we made last November when we engaged Judge Freeh to conduct an independent investigation into the University’s actions regarding former Penn State employee, Jerry Sandusky, and the handling of allegations of the child abuse crimes of which he has since been found guilty,” read a portion of the statement from PSU’s board, which was posted on its website. “Judge Freeh and his team conducted a rigorous eight-month investigation into all aspects of the University’s actions to determine where breakdowns occurred and what changes should be made for the future… We expect a comprehensive analysis of our policies, procedures and controls related to identifying and reporting crimes and misconduct, including failures or gaps that may have allowed alleged misconduct to go undetected or unreported.”

Speaking as a PSU alumna, City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown quoted philosopher Edmund Burke. “Burke said, ‘All that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,’ and that, in effect, is what happened at Penn State,” said Reynolds Brown. “Never, at any time, under any circumstance, and for any reason, should a child or young person’s safety be put at the risk of evil men. And evil includes Sandusky and those in leadership.”

There were many other reactions to the report.

“We’ll continue working with all relevant campus officials and law enforcement personnel to determine whether or not there was a violation of the Clery Act. Beyond that, our investigation is ongoing,” said Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.

Some believe the scandal is a wake-up call to other institutions.

“As the leading national foundation working to end child sexual abuse, the Ms. Foundation for Women expresses outrage that top Penn State university officials sacrificed children under Sandusky’s supervision to preserve reputations. This failure by top university officials to protect children should serve as a wake-up call to other institutions whose policies, or lack thereof, leave children vulnerable to sexual abuse,” said Ms. Foundation for Women President and CEO Anika Rahman.

The report caught the attention of sexual abuse advocates.

“It really confirms everybody’s worst fears about what was going on there,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. “The fact that this is such a complete indictment of the university leadership is opening people’s eyes to the potential liability that schools face if they don’t address this correctly. ... Heads of every college and university in the country have got to be taking note of this, and calling board meetings today and saying, ‘We need to make sure that we change the way we’re doing things.’”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said the result would not affect on the ongoing criminal phase of the investigation.

“Throughout this entire time, the focus of the attorney general’s office has been on the criminal process — seeking justice for the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s predatory sexual abuse and identifying other individuals who may also have violated state laws,” said Kelly. “Today’s release of the Freeh Report will not hinder the continuing work of our statewide investigating grand jury, nor will it impact ongoing criminal prosecutions”


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .