Why several Penn State trustees request 3 actions to counter the Freeh report

Several Penn State trustees on Friday held a special meeting to announce that they've finished their own review of the controversial Freeh report and would like to make it public. However, they are unable to do so until it's approved by the full board.

The majority of the board, including board chair Mark Dambly and vice chair Matt Schuyler, as well as university President Eric Barron, were not in attendance at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.

"To be fair, this meeting was called on short notice. Nonetheless, I am disappointed that a quorum of the board is not present," said alumni-elected trustee Anthony Lubrano, whose term ends Sunday.

The group of trustees, which includes Lubrano, Edward Brown, Robert Capretto, Barbara Doran, Robert Jubelirer, Ryan McCombie, William Oldsey, Jay Paterno, Alice Pope, Robert Tribeck and Elliott Weinstein, outlined three specific recommendations they would like the board as a whole to make.

Those recommendations are:

  1. Release the trustees' report to the public
  2. Reject the conclusions made in the Freeh Report
  3. Consider seeking the return of the more than $8.3 million paid for the production of the Freeh Report
What happens next to the trustees' report won't be decided until at least July 19-20, when the full board meets.

The group's findings stem from materials relating to the Freeh report, which they gained access to through a court order in November 2015.

According to the court order, it was determined that the seven petitioner trustees have the right "to inspect and receive all materials and documents generated, prepared, gathered, received or relied upon" by Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP and/or Freeh Group International Solutions LLC in "investigating and preparing the July 12, 2012 report of the special investigation counsel regarding the actions of (Penn State) related to the university sexual abuse committed by (retired Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky) or referenced in the report."

"Why did the board of trustees not believe it had a fiduciary duty to verify the veracity of the report that has to date in some part cost the university more than $300 million?" Lubrano said. "That is obviously a rhetorical question, one that I will ask myself for many years to come."

University spokesman Lawrence Lokman told The Daily Collegian Wednesday that the topic of discussion was never raised with Barron, board leadership or university counsel beforehand, and that they found "no real urgency for this last-minute request."

Lubrano and fellow alumni-elected trustee Alice Pope applauded Barron for promising in November 2014 to conduct his own review of the Freeh report, but both said they're disappointed that he has not yet done so.

"I think (Barron) has an obligation to the Penn State community, the alumni of Penn State, to fulfill the promise that he made," Lubrano said. "That, to me, is leadership, and I'm not very happy that he hasn't followed through."

In a statement, the university said Barron has reviewed the Freeh files, but is prohibited from disclosing them outside of a privileged executive session.

"President Barron has reviewed a significant portion of the Freeh files. However, he, like all trustees who have been granted access to the source materials, is prohibited by confidentiality restrictions from discussing or disclosing them, except in a privileged executive session or with university counsel," the statement read.

Pope, who conducted the meeting, said that their review, reflected by public criticisms, found that the Freeh report's conclusions were poorly supported by evidence, contained factual errors and utilized flawed investigative methodology, including the failure to interview those with direct experience in the matters in the investigation.

She pointed out discrepancies between the Freeh report and other investigations into the matter, specifically the recently released federal investigation into the role of former president Graham Spanier, and said it's "imperative" that the board comes to an understanding about said discrepancies.

"The Penn State board of trustees has never voted to accept or reject the Freeh report; rather the board adopted a don't ask, don't look and don't tell policy," she said. "This policy led to a tacit acceptance of the report and resulted in profound reputational harm to our university."

Commissioned by the university in 2012, the Freeh Report was the product of former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation into Penn State's handling of the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Among other things, the report concluded that various Penn State officials, including longtime head football coach Joe Paterno, had known about the abuse allegations since at least 1998 and were complicit in failing to disclose them. The findings led to the NCAA's sanctions against the university, and dealt a severe blow to Penn State's reputation.

Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator, was convicted in June 2012 on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse crimes.