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4:40 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Penn State Braces For Sex Abuse Report

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 11:21 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

It's a sobering morning at Penn State University. Today, former FBI Director Louis Freeh release released a scathing report on how Penn State dealt with a series of shocking allegations that led to the by Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Sandusky was the revered former defensive coach for the Penn State football team. He was found guilty last month of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

The Freeh Report concludes that some leaders of the university knew about Sandusky's behavior, but did not stop it. Tom Goldman, NPR's Tom Goldman has been following this story and he joins now. Good morning.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Tell us about Freeh's investigation and its findings.

GOLDMAN: Well, after more than 430 interviews and going over 3.5 million emails and other documents, here's the headline statement from Louis Freeh today: Our most saddening and sobering finding is that total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State, the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.

MONTAGNE: And who were these powerful men, and what did they not do?

GOLDMAN: Well, Graham Spanier, the former president of the university, Penn State officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, and then of course Joe Paterno, the legendary head coach, head football coach for nearly 50 years. They knew about a 1998 investigation of an incident involving Sandusky and a boy and didn't pursue. They knew about a 2001 incident witnessed by assistant football coach, Mike McQueary, then a graduate student, in which Sandusky sexually assaulted a boy in the showers of the football building.

Freeh says they had a plan to report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare, but then changed the plan, decided not to report it to authorities after one of the men, Tim Curley, consulted with Joe Paterno. Very damning against Joe Paterno. Now, Freeh said, Renee, that the men didn't act because they were worried about bad publicity.

LOUIS FREEH: Bad publicity affects a panorama of different events, including the brand of Penn State, including the university, including the reputation of coaches, including the ability to do fundraising. It's got huge implications.

GOLDMAN: Now, Freeh also said there was a culture where a janitor was afraid of reporting a Sandusky rape of a boy that the janitor witnessed for fear that he'd be fired as very telling, Freeh said. He said, if that's the culture at the bottom, God help the culture at the top.

MONTAGNE: And we haven't heard yet from the Penn State's board of trustees today, but Joe Paterno's family has issued a statement. What did they say?

GOLDMAN: They said the underlying facts as summarized in the report are almost entirely consistent with what we understood them to be. They go on to say Joe Paterno wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he regretted them. He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. And they say, it can be argued that Joe Paterno should have gone further, he should have pushed his superiors to see that they were doing their jobs. We accept this criticism.

MONTAGNE: And what did the report recommend be done now?

GOLDMAN: Well, Renee, there are over 100 recommendations. I can't go over them all. A few of them: they're recommending a deep examination of Penn State's culture to reinforce the university commitment to protect children, create accountability and transparency, and to review governance and operation of the board of trustees.

MONTAGNE: Tom, thank you very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman on the much-anticipated report into Penn State's handling of former coach Jerry Sandusky. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.