Penn St. board votes down new look at 2012 report
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State’s trustees on Tuesday voted against taking a fresh look at the 2012 university-commissioned report into how the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal was handled, disappointing many who have criticized the report as deeply flawed and unfairly damaging to the institution.
The board voted 17-9 against a resolution backed by alumni-elected trustees that would have set up a group to comb through the report and seek answers from Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who led the team that produced it.
Many alumni have been critical of the board’s handling of the aftermath of the scandal and particularly how the school treated late football coach Joe Paterno, prompting a successful trustee election effort.
“There is no downside, none at all, if we review the report,” said Bob Jubelirer, an alumni trustee — and former state senator — who joined the board this year. “This is controversial — it has damaged this university.”
The debate demonstrated the deep divide among board members about what to do regarding the report, which concluded Paterno and top administrators concealed key facts about Sandusky’s abuse to avoid bad publicity.
“I truly cannot understand why a truly engaged trustee who’s paying attention would not vote wholeheartedly today in favor of this resolution,” said alumni-elected trustee Bill Oldsey, arguing the trustees needed to do more to defend the school in light of the consequences of the Freeh report and NCAA sanctions.
Lawyer Rick Dandrea, a trustee who is not elected by alumni, said any new review would be hampered by a lack of subpoena power, limited access to witnesses and a set of civil and criminal legal proceedings that are still pending.
“I believe patience is the order of the day,” Dandrea said. “I’m not demeaning the objectives, but I think it is certainly premature.”
Trustee Ken Frazier, who worked closely with Freeh during the investigation, said the report produced evidence that affected the Sandusky prosecution, and the changes it recommended have made the school safer for students, faculty, staff and children.
“It is my strong view that any action we take today should be done with the broad view of the university and all of its constituents, and what’s best for the university moving forward,” Frazier said.
The meeting did not allow for public participation, but supporters of the failed resolution applauded loudly on several occasions and in a few instances individuals shouted at the board, causing security to escort them from the room.
The Freeh report, issued shortly after Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, recommended widespread changes in the school’s operations and governance. The university has used it as a blueprint to change its governing structure, how children are supervised on campus and other procedures.
At the time it was released, Penn State issued a statement calling it “sad and sobering in that it concludes that at the moment of truth, people in positions of authority and responsibility did not put the welfare of children first.”
“We’ve accepted a scarlet letter saying we are a football culture, when everyone knows we are not a football culture,” alumni-elected trustee Ryan McCombie said at the meeting Tuesday. “I refuse to wear that letter, and I don’t think this university should, either.”
Three administrators have been charged with a criminal cover-up of complaints about Sandusky and are awaiting trial in county court in Harrisburg. Former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley have all vigorously denied the allegations and have sought to have their cases thrown out.
Paterno died of lung cancer in January 2012, before the Freeh Report was released. Sandusky, the school’s retired defensive coach, was convicted in 2012 of sexual abuse of 10 boys and is serving a lengthy state prison sentence.