Penn State Freeh Report Speed Read: Most Damaging Findings

The Daily Beast speed reads the Penn State Freeh report.

07.12.12 3:04 PM ET

Even though Jerry Sandusky has already been convicted of multiple accounts of sexual assault, the Freeh report, which details the findings of a months-long abuse inquiry, has garnered interest—and may have an effect on potential civil litigation and on Penn State’s vaunted and profitable football program. Two people still face charges in the case: former Athletic Director Timothy Curley and Senior Vice President Finance and Business Gary Schultz stand accused of failing to report Sandusky’s behavior and of committing perjury during their Grand Jury testimony.

Here are some of the most important parts of the report–a list we’ll update throughout the day.

Executive Summary

The report, as expected, is quite damning for Penn State. From the first part of the executive summary:

“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…

Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University—President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno—failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky's activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.”

Early Signs

But this case wasn’t just about cover-ups and missed opportunities. Some people were reportedly on to Sandusky very early. One of them was State College psychologist Alycia Chambers, who the report says was called by one of Sandusky’s victims’ mother on May 4, 1998, and learned that Sandusky had lifted him into a bear hug from behind while showering with him. She reportedly passed the victim’s story onto police and her colleagues, and they agreed that “the incidents meet all of our definitions, based on experience and education, of a likely pedophile's pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch, within a context of a ‘loving,’ ‘special’ relationship.” (42)

Worst Counselor Ever?

The report is a reminder of just how big a role one of the lesser-known names in this case might have played: John Seasock. Seasock, a psychologist, was reportedly interviewed the same victim on May 8, 1998 and was given the same shower story.

Seasock’s reaction? A report indicating there was no evidence of sexual abuse. When asked about the report by Detective Ron Schreffler, he said he had never heard of a 52-year-old “becoming a pedophile.” When Shreffler pressed him, he admitted that he wasn’t really familiar with many details of the case. (44-45)

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Did They All Know About the Allegations?

The Freeh report emphasizes that there was a steady discussion going on between former Penn State president Graham Spanier, Schultz, Curley–and Paterno. The report quotes extensively from emails between the first three, but the references to Paterno are a bit vaguer–in one case, an email from Curley to Schultz and Spanier had the subject line “Joe Paterno” and read “I have touched base with the coach.”

In this same section of the report, we find out that Schreffler didn’t pull an incident number for the ongoing Sandusky investigation–which would have been a public record – because “it was his normal procedure for drug investigations and he was not initially sure of what type of investigation he had.” (48-49)

No Charges, No Protection for Kids

In early June of 1998, in the wake of local authorities’ decision not to press charges against Sandusky, PSU’s administrators and football program still could have taken action to prevent Sandusky from coming into contact with children. They did not.

As the report notes: “Neither Harmon nor Schultz’s emails set forth, or suggest, that they planned to discuss the incident with Sandusky, to review or monitor his use of University facilities, to discuss his role at the Second Mile and his involvement in Second Mile overnight programs operated in Penn State facilities, or to consider the propriety of a continuing connection between Penn State and the Second Mile. There also is no mention of whether Sandusky should receive counseling.” (50 – 51)

Spanier Protected Penn State’s Integrity—At Least Once

Lest any of us come away with the impression that Spanier didn’t care about the rules, the report relates an incident in which Spanier stood up tall against a wrongdoer:

“Spanier never declared Sandusky a ‘persona non grata’ on Penn State campuses, as he did toward a sports agent who, before the 1997 Citrus Bowl, bought $400 worth of clothing for a Penn State football player. Spanier was very aggressive in that case and banned the agent from campus. Spanier said the agent ‘fooled around with the integrity of the university, and I won’t stand for that.’ The University conducted its own investigation, and provided the results to law enforcement. In an email dated May 13, 1998, Spanier said, ‘The idea is to keep [the sports agent] off campus permanently, to keep him away from current athletes, and to keep him away from current graduates or students whose eligibility has recently expired.” (52)

Perks, Perks, Perks!

Sandusky retired in 1999, and the report indicates there’s no evidence to suggest his retirement had any connection to the allegations against him. But it’s still notable just how well the university treated him as he was headed out the door. He was given an “emeritus” rank that allowed him access to the East Area locker rooms (unusual given his position), he was an “emergency hire” for the 1999 football season even as his retirement details were being worked out, and, perhaps most notable, “Spanier approved a one-time lump sum payment to Sandusky of $168,000. A senior University Controller’s office official and a retired Senior Vice president both stated that they had never known the University to provide this type of payment to a retiring employee.”