STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and other senior officials "repeatedly concealed critical facts" about Jerry Sandusky's child abuse because they were worried about bad publicity, according to an internal investigation into the scandal concluded.
The 267-page report released Thursday is the result of an eight-month inquiry by former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by university trustees weeks after Sandusky was arrested in November to look into what has become one of sports' biggest scandals.
The report concluded that Paterno, president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."
"In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the university — Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse," the report said.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts. The scandal led to the ouster of Paterno and the school's president.
The report also singled out the revered Penn State football program — one built on the motto "success with honor" — for criticism. It says Paterno and university leaders allowed Sandusky to retire in 1999, "not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, with future 'visibility' at Penn State'," allowing him to groom victims.
Sandusky's trial last month included gut-wrenching testimony from eight young men who said he abused them as boys, sometimes on campus, and included testimony that showed he used his prestige as a university celebrity to manipulate the children.
By contrast, Freeh's team focused on Penn State and what its employees did — or did not do — to protect children.
More than 430 current or former school employees were interviewed since November, including nearly everyone associated with the football program under Paterno. The Hall of Fame coach died of lung cancer in January at age 85, without telling Freeh's team his account of what happened.
With the report now complete, the NCAA said Penn State now must address four key questions concerning "institutional control and ethics policies," as outlined in a letter sent to the school last fall.
"Penn State's response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action," said Bob Williams, the NCAA's vice president of communications. "We expect Penn State's continued cooperation in our examination of these issues."
Posted earlier today:
Penn State's Sandusky report will draw scrutiny
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The results of Penn State's internal investigation into the Jerry Sandusky case are due to be released in the form of a report that could answer many of the troubling questions swirling around one of the darkest scandals in sports history.
A team led by former federal judge and FBI director Louis Freeh interviewed hundreds of people to learn how the university responded to warning signs that its once revered former defensive coordinator — a man who helped Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno win two national titles while touting "success with honor" — was a serial child molester.
Sandusky was convicted on 45 criminal counts last month at a trial that included gut-wrenching testimony from eight young men who said he abused them as boys.
By contrast, the Freeh report, scheduled for online release at 9 a.m. Thursday, will focus on Penn State and what it did — or didn't do — to protect children. It remains unclear how top university officials handled reports dating back at least 14 years that Sandusky was behaving inappropriately with boys he met through his charity, bringing them on campus and forcing them into sex acts.
The report also could add to what is known about the role of Paterno, who died from lung cancer in January at age 85, two months after being fired as coach following Sandusky's arrest.
In a letter written after his firing that surfaced Wednesday, Paterno defended the football program's integrity and rejected the notion that Sandusky's sexual abuse of boys amounted to a "football scandal" or in any way tarnished the accomplishments of his players or Penn State's reputation as a whole.
The Paterno family said the letter was given in draft form to a few former players around December. One of the ex-players circulated it to other former players this week, and it was posted on the website FightonState.com, which covers the team.
"Over and over again, I have heard Penn State officials decrying the influence of football and have heard such ignorant comments like Penn State will no longer be a 'football factory' and we are going to 'start' focusing on integrity in athletics," Paterno wrote. "These statements are simply unsupported by the five decades of evidence to the contrary — and succeed only in unfairly besmirching both a great university and the players and alumni of the football program who have given of themselves to help make it great."
Paterno also wrote, "This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one."
Ex-players and alumni who remain outraged over Paterno's ouster will certainly be among those who will scour the Freeh report, as will school officials trying to repair Penn State's shattered reputation.
Former linebacker Brandon Short, now an investment banker in Dubai, received Paterno's 712-word missive Wednesday. He told The Associated Press that he will be looking to the Freeh report to find "some clarity, hoping that it is a fair assessment of what happened, and we would love to see answers."
He added, "Let's see the report and save all judgment and innuendo until after we've read it."
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, an alumni watchdog group that has been highly critical of the school's board of trustees, issued a 95-point checklist of issues it said it expects to be covered in Freeh's report "in order for it to be considered a credible, valid summary of the case."
Lawyers for the young men who testified against Sandusky, and others planning lawsuits, will be reading the findings for what it might mean regarding civil litigation.
Joel Feller, part of a legal team that represents several victims in the case, including three who testified against Sandusky, said Wednesday he will look for clues about "who knew what and when."
"I think the Freeh report will be a good starting point to allow the plaintiffs' lawyers to determine who the key people are and what information they had," he said. "An important part of that is to figure out when they knew it, and more importantly why appropriate steps were not taken to stop this ongoing conduct of Sandusky."
The Freeh report is expected to delve deeply into the handling of a 2001 report from Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant who told Paterno he had saw Sandusky with a young boy in the football team shower. Paterno, in turn, alerted athletic director Tim Curley, who investigated the report along with Gary Schultz, a university vice president who oversaw the campus police department. Curley and Schultz ultimately decided not to alert law enforcement or child welfare authorities.
Curley, who's on leave, and the now-retired Schultz, are awaiting trial on charges they lied to a grand jury investigating Sandusky and failed to report the McQueary complaint to civil authorities as required.
After a 50-minute meeting in Harrisburg with the judge overseeing their case, Schultz's lawyer said Wednesday he won't be among those who call up the Freeh report the minute it is posted.
"I don't expect I'll be reading it for a while," said Pittsburgh attorney Tom Farrell. "I've got other things to do."
Heavy website traffic could make it difficult for people to access the Freeh report, but experts say good planning will usually avoid such "flash crowd" crashes.
"To a certain extent, flash crowds are a fact of life in a news-media-driven world," said Carlos Morales, vice president at Massachusetts-based Arbor Networks, a company that provides network security and monitoring software.
The NCAA, meanwhile, said Wednesday that it will decide on whether to take action at the "appropriate time." The governing body said it has already been collecting information from Freeh's probe, and that Penn State will have to formally respond to questions from NCAA President Mark Emmert after Freeh reveals his findings.
The NCAA is reviewing how Penn State exerted "institutional control" in relation to the Sandusky matter, and whether university officials complied with policies that pertain to honesty and ethical conduct. The NCAA could open a more formal investigation that may expose Penn State to sanctions.