PS4RS Members respond to BoT Chairman Karen Peetz’s message to alumni on July 18, 2012 on the Freeh Report
Dear Ms. Peetz,
I read your recent letter to alumni which says in part, “I am certain that many of you have read or heard about the report’s findings…” Your statement last Thursday that Coach Paterno’s record of service to Penn State has been “marred” indicates to me that you read no more than the findings before you made this irresponsible and, were Coach Paterno still alive, possibly defamatory statement to the news media. This is also not the first but rather the second time you have done something like this; the first was on 11/9 when you joined your colleagues in an equally irresponsible and reckless rush to judgment based on incomplete evidence.
I know that the report was released on the morning of the July 12 meeting, and that neither you nor your colleagues had a chance to go through the 200-plus page report to identify its multiple deficiencies, omissions, and contradictions of its own findings. This is not however an acceptable excuse for anybody in a managerial or leadership position. The truth is that the report’s own contents show that Coach Paterno, President Spanier, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz exercised due and responsible diligence—exactly the kind of diligence that the Board has now failed to exercise on at least two occasions—in dealing with the allegations against Mr. Sandusky. Other alumni and I are now however doing your jobs for you, and here are some of our discoveries.
(1) The report stipulates (page 51) that Paterno objected to the presence of Second Mile children on campus for any purpose whatsoever. “Is this [Sandusky’s access to Penn State athletic facilities] for personal use or 2nd Mile kids? No to 2nd Mile. Liability problems.” Freeh nonetheless blames him for not keeping Sandusky and/or the 2nd Mile children off campus.
(2) Even though the report blames Penn State for not keeping Sandusky off campus, or out of the Lasch Building, it admits (page 81) that University counsel (Cynthia Baldwin) said that the University could not legally revoke Sandusky’s access to the athletic facilities because of his Emeritus status, and because he had not been convicted of a crime. Page 106 reiterates this stipulation. Page 107 adds that Baldwin said “his access could not be eliminated without the University being sued.” The report therefore condemns Penn State’s administrators for not doing something their attorney said could get them sued.
(3) The report also stipulates (page 69) that Schultz asked Attorney Wendell Courtney for legal advice on the subject of reporting suspected child abuse. The Freeh Group admits that it could not find out what advice Courtney provided, but it nonetheless accuses Schultz and others of a cover-up without having this information in hand. The bottom line is however that Schultz exercised what appears to be due diligence by asking an attorney what obligations the University had regarding the 2001 shower incident.
(4) The report admits that Curley told the Executive Director of the 2nd Mile about the 2001 shower incident, and the Director then told two 2nd Mile Trustees. They concluded that it was a “non-incident,” but Freeh’s press release and findings do not carry a single word of blame for the 2nd Mile.
The Second Mile, the Department of Public Welfare (which should have told the 2nd Mile about the 1998 incident even though Sandusky was not prosecuted), and Governor Corbett are all conspicuous by their absence from the Freeh Group’s harsh findings. As Attorney General, Corbett delayed prosecution of Sandusky so he could “gather more evidence” (http://www.yardbird.com/Freeh_report_ignores_Corbett_inaction.htm and http://www.fox43.com/news/dauphin/wpmt-corbett-defends-length-of-sandusky-investigation-20120625,0,467687.story), i.e. allow Sandusky to keep doing what he was doing in the meantime. When Mr. Corbett became a Trustee ex officio, he then withheld from his fellow Trustees knowledge of the problem with Sandusky until he pretended to be surprised by it on November 9. He also apparently accepted campaign contributions from 2nd Mile leaders while he was investigating Sandusky, and approved a state grant to the 2nd Mile.
The Freeh Report’s failure to even mention these organizations’ and Governor Corbett’s roles in allowing Sandusky to continue his activities taints the entire work product with a perception of incomplete work at best. The only things that have been “marred” by this report are therefore the Freeh Group’s brand name, and also Trustee Peetz’s own record of service to Penn State for accepting its findings without (apparently) reviewing the information presented above. To recap:
(1) On 11/9, the Trustees turned the Sandusky scandal into the Penn State scandal by effectively accepting blame on Penn State’s part for Sandusky’s activities.
(2) The Trustees then brought in the Freeh Group to deliver what is, in my opinion as supported by the facts above and others, an incompletely researched product that does not support its own conclusions, and even contradicts its own conclusions.
(3) Trustee Peetz, without apparently reading and assessing the report’s contents as shown by her statement to the press, accepted the Freeh Report’s defective conclusions on Penn State’s behalf.
–Bill Levinson B.S. ‘78