Freeh investigation concludes Joe Paterno knew about 1998 shower incident, was instrumental in Jerry Sandusky cover-up
The Freeh investigation commissioned by Penn State released its findings on Thursday morning and confirmed the public’s worst fears: Joe Paterno and other Penn State leaders knew in 1998 that Jerry Sandusky was a child sex abuser, and they let him continue his behavior because they wanted to protect the football program’s image.
The first sentence in the “Findings” section of the Freeh report (download PDF here) states the disturbing truth: “The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.”
The report concludes that some of Penn State’s most powerful men — including Joe Paterno — knew that Jerry Sandusky was investigated in 1998 for showering with a boy. Their response in 1998, and in 2001 after Mike McQueary told them he saw Sandusky anal raping a young boy, was essentially that Sandusky could continue to do what he wants so long as it weren’t on Penn State property. The report also finds the Penn State Board of Trustees at fault for not holding the highest university administrators accountable and for not investigating matters when they learned Sandusky was being investigated by a grand jury in 2011.
Below is some of the most damning info from the press release:
The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.
Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large
The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s.
Below is a copy of a 1998 email from former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley to former vice president Gary Schultz that explicitly states Joe Paterno was “anxious to know where it stands.” “It” was a reference to the 1998 shower incident for which Sandusky was investigated.
A followup email from the campus police director informs Schultz that Sandusky had showered with other boys. The Penn State officials knew there was a pattern with Sandusky. Schultz’s notes from May 4 1998 even show that he wondered if the 1998 shower incident would open a “pandora’s box” of sexual incidents involving Sandusky.
Paterno denied any knowledge of Sandusky’s history as a pedophile prior to 2001 when speaking to the Grand Jury, but that was proven false. Handwritten notes in 1999 said Jerry Sandusky would not be allowed to bring Second Mile children into training or athletic facilities because of “liability problems” (see that here).
The Freeh report condemns Penn State for allowing Sandusky to retire as a “valued member of the Penn State football legacy” rather than a suspected child predator. However, they found no evidence to indicate that Sandusky’s retirement was related to the 1998 police investigation, which is what we have speculated. We still believe the two are connected, and we feel the lump sum $160,000 payment made to Sandusky when he retired is also related.
Overall we saw a situation where Penn State prioritized football over everything else, including the well-being of young, defenseless children. The top-level administrators, and the most powerful and legendary figure on campus — Joe Paterno — decided to protect themselves, their cash cow, and their precious football program instead of innocent children. They all deserve to be imprisoned for their roles in the sexual abuse crimes, and they should not be viewed as men of dignity. Nothing that Paterno accomplished as a coach can undo or compare to the crimes he covered up and allowed to continue.