In Report, Failures Throughout Penn State

Ann McClure's picture

Behind the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal at Penn State lay a series of failures all the way up the university’s chain of command — shortcomings that were the result of an insular and complacent culture in which football was revered, rules were not applied and the balance of power was dangerously out of whack.

In an investigation lasting more than seven months, Louis J. Freeh, a former director of the F.B.I., found a legendary football coach bending his supposed bosses to his will, a university staff that was mostly unaware of its legal duties to report violence and sexual abuse, and a university president who hid problems from the board of trustees and was guided by a fear of bad publicity.

The trustees, who hired Mr. Freeh to explore the university’s failings, fare little better in Mr. Freeh’s formal report on his investigation: they are portrayed as passive overseers, so in thrall to the president and the coach that they failed to demand even the barest displays of accountability.

The failure of top officials to stop Mr. Sandusky, a former football assistant who was convicted last month of sexually assaulting 10 boys, “reveals numerous individual failings, but it also reveals weaknesses of the university’s culture, governance, administration, compliance policies and procedures for protecting children,” Mr. Freeh wrote.

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