Penn State Trustees Ask Former FBI Director Freeh to Lead Child-Sex Probe
The investigation will examine all aspects of the allegations of child sexual molestation by a former Penn State football coach and the school’s response, said Ken Frazier, a member of the board of trustees who’s leading a special committee on the scandal. He spoke at a press conference in Philadelphia today.
The probe will show no favoritism to any parties at Penn State, including members of the board, said Freeh, who was FBI director from 1993 to 2001.
“Our mandate is clear,” Freeh said at the press conference. “We have been tasked to investigate the matter fully, fairly and completely.”
Penn State, located in State College, Pennsylvania, is reeling from a grand jury report alleging that Jerry Sandusky, who worked under former head football coach Joe Paterno until 1999, abused at least eight children from 1994 to 2009. Penn State’s faculty senate called on Nov. 18 for an independent investigation of the scandal, including how the accusations went unreported to authorities for so long.
Separate Faculty Probe
The investigation asked for by the faculty senate should still go ahead, said Al Luloff, a Penn State professor of agricultural sciences who voted in favor of that probe.
“I’m happy that they’re moving forward, but I’m anxious to move forward ourselves,” he said in a telephone interview. “The two should go forward in parallel but independently.”
Freeh’s investigation will include the university’s protocols, culture, and leadership, Frazier said today. No specific time frame has been set for completion of the investigative review, according to a statement.
“We take very seriously these events, and I hope you can see by the appointment of a person of Judge Freeh’s background and standing how seriously we take them,” said Frazier, who is president and chief executive officer of Merck & Co.
Freeh is empowered to take his team’s work “wherever it leads,” Frazier said. The team of investigators will include former FBI agents and prosecutors, including some with experience investigating cases of child sexual abuse, and will go back as far as 1975, Freeh said.
The team has already begun investigating and will contact Penn State’s university police tomorrow, Freeh said. He has established a toll-free telephone hotline and email address where people with additional information about the scandal can report information.
Urgency to Get Facts
“We want to do this comprehensively, we want to do this in a fair manner,” Freeh said. “We also know that there’s an urgency to get the facts we need.”
Freeh, a former FBI agent, became an assistant U.S. attorney for New York’s southern district in 1981 and was appointed federal district court judge in 1991 by former President George Bush. He is now a senior managing partner at Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP and the founder of Freeh Group International Solutions, an affiliated investigative consultancy, according to the statement.
World soccer’s governing body, FIFA, hired Freeh to investigate one of the sport’s most-senior officials, the former head of soccer for Asia Mohamed Bin Hammam. The probe followed claims that Bin Hammam offered $40,000 to officials in the Caribbean to vote for him in his challenge against FIFA President Sepp Blatter at an election in June.
Bin Hammam quit the race days before the election after being suspended by FIFA. Freeh’s group’s subsequent investigation led to a lifetime ban for Hammam and punishments for several other officials from the Caribbean. Freeh’s group is also investigating separate corruption claims against other senior FIFA executives.
Penn State fired football coach Joe Paterno and President Graham B. Spanier on Nov. 9 in the aftermath of the scandal. Neither was charged.
Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report the allegations.
Sandusky denied the charges in a Nov. 14 interview with Bob Costas on the NBC News “Rock Center” program.
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