By Peter Gleason
A confidential report by seven alumni-elected Penn State trustees says a two-year review of source materials found the 2012 Freeh Report and investigation that led to it were “flawed” and “fatally compromised.”
The document titled “Report to the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University on the Freeh Report’s Flawed Methodology & Conclusions.”
The alumni trustees submitted the report to the full board in June 2018 and asked for a resolution to make it public but the full board took no action and it had remained confidential.
The Freeh Report was the culmination of an $8 million, university-commissioned investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh into the circumstances that led to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. Freeh’s report claimed former football coach Joe Paterno, president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz knew of and concealed instances of Sandusky’s abuse of children and blamed a “a culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community.”
Sandusky, a former Penn State football defensive coordinator, was charged in November 2011 and convicted in 2012 on 45 counts related to child sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison and maintains his innocence. He recently was granted a re-sentencing but denied a new trial by Pennsylvania Superior Court.
The Freeh Report was used by the NCAA to levy unprecedented sanctions against Penn State football, but was also met with almost immediate criticisms of its findings and credibility. After the university rejected requests by then-alumni-elected trustee Anthony Lubrano, he and six other trustees won a court order in November 2015 to receive the source materials for Freeh’s investigation. The order, however, restricted trustees from publicly discussing privileged or confidential materials, thus requiring board approval for the release of the report.
The alumni trustees’ 113-page report contains few new revelations for those who have followed the case most closely, but it pulls together information that has slowly trickled out over the past six and a half years and builds the most comprehensive case to date for rejecting the Freeh Report.
It was authored by current trustees Ted Brown, Barbara Doran, Robert Jubelirer, Bill Oldsey and Alice Pope and former trustees Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, who left the board at the end of June.
They say that contrary to claims otherwise, the Freeh Report and investigation were not independent or thorough, misrepresented findings, ignored contradictory information and were rife with conflicts of interests and biases.
In an executive summary, the alumni trustees list their findings before delving into the materials:
– There was no support for the conclusion that Paterno, Spanier, Schultz or Curley knew Sandusky had harmed children.
– There was no support for the conclusion that Penn State’s culture was responsible for allowing Sandusky to harm children.
– The Freeh team’s independence was “fatally compromised” by collaboration with three interested parties: the NCAA, members of the Penn State Board of Trustees, and then-Gov. Tom Corbett and his Office of Attorney General.
– Those three interested parties “appear to have had their own conflicts of interest that influenced the unsupported conclusions of the Freeh Report.”
– The Freeh Report was full of investigative and reporting flaws, using unreliable methods for conducting and analyzing interviews; failing to interview most of the individuals with direct knowledge of the events being investigated; supplying motivations supported only by conjecture and speculation; selectively misrepresenting investigative data; and ignoring or withholding “the vast majority of investigative findings which were contrary to the report’s conclusions.”