Democracy Now: Probe: Penn State Football Coach, Officials Covered Up Child Molestation
An exhaustive independent probe has concluded top officials at Penn State University — including legendary football coach Joe Paterno — covered up sexual molestation allegations against an assistant coach 14 years before they finally came to light. The seven-month investigation reveals Paterno, Penn State President Graham Spanier and other school officials were aware then assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of child molestation as early as 1998, but were only concerned with protecting the school’s image. The report concludes that a “culture of reverence for the football program” at the school led to a cover-up that “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.” Sandusky was finally arrested last year and found guilty of sexually abusing 10 young boys last month. Unveiling his findings on Thursday, former FBI director Louis Freeh said Penn State’s leadership had allowed Sandusky’s abuse to continue.
Louis Freeh: “Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also failed to alert the board of trustees about the 1998 investigation or take any other action against Mr. Sandusky. None of them ever spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity.”
The report’s findings show Paterno — who died earlier this year — made false statements to a grand jury and to the public about his knowledge of the allegations against Sandusky. An email by Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley from 1998 — three years before Paterno said he first heard of the allegations — reads: “Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” After Sandusky was again accused of abusing a young boy on campus in 2001, Paterno reportedly convinced his colleagues that it would be most “humane” to deal with the matter internally instead of reporting him to police. A janitor at the school reportedly failed to report witnessing Sandusky abuse a young boy in 2000 out of fear he would lose his job. The janitor said: “Paterno has so much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone. … Football runs this university.” In response to the report, Penn State is facing pressure to remove a statue of Paterno displayed prominently on campus. The report is also expected to fuel a number of civil lawsuits against the school on behalf of the victims. Curley, the former athletic director, and the school’s former Vice President Gary Schultz, still face criminal charges for failing to inform police about Sandusky’s abuse and for lying before a grand jury about their knowledge of it.