Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Penn State, community brace for Freeh report findings

After the Jerry Sandusky scandal erupted, Penn State trustees brought in a former FBI director they said would help get to the bottom of what happened.

At 9 a.m. today, Penn State alumni, staff and community members will learn if they’ll get answers to that question.

The report from Louis Freeh will be posted online at 9 a.m., followed by a press conference in Philadelphia at 10 a.m. 

Trustees hired Freeh in November. The investigation has included some 400 interviews, along with access to documents and correspondence. 

It comes the day before three new board members will be sitting at their first trustees meeting. The board members, elected amid unrest, say they’re hoping the report can help the university move forward.

“Hopefully this report will go a long way in helping the Penn State community begin to heal,” said new trustee Anthony Lubrano.

Incoming trustee Ryan McCombie also said he hopes the report will help the university be in a better place. He said the entire scandal has been polarizing, with much of that revolving around Joe Paterno.

“In general, there are people who love Joe and always will, and people who dislike him and always will,” McCombie said of the late football coach.

He credited Paterno with building the university.

“There’s enough blame in this thing to go around,” he said. “I would also include the alumni. They were also asleep ... Everything was muddling along quite well, thank you.”

Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship is one of the groups that has been following the developments closely. Public relations coordinator Maribeth Schmidt expressed concern about the direction the Freeh report may have taken,  saying the group “expected the final report to answer specific questions of: what happened, how did it happen and why did it happen.

“Simple questions, simple expectations. We did not expect this to become a wide-ranging investigation into matters totally unrelated to Jerry Sandusky’s behavior,” she said. “And we certainly did not expect anonymous, unauthorized leaks for which no one is being held accountable.”

Emails former administrators, including then-President Graham Spanier, reportedly exchanged in 2001 that appear to be in response to Mike McQueary’s report of seeing Sandusky naked in a shower with a boy have been the subject of numerous reports after being leaked to the media.

Trustees are meeting at the Worthington Scranton campus Friday and will be responding to the Freeh report at a time and location to be announced this morning.

Trustees did have a telephone conference call Tuesday night to discuss receiving the report. Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel at the Pennsylvania Newspapers Association, said anytime there is a quorum of board members and a discussion of agency business, the meeting has to be properly advertised.

She said if board members were talking about agenda items and things that will be discussed at public meetings, that could raise issues of Sunshine Law violations.

“It’s really easy to cross the line,” she said.

Spokesman David La Torre said it was a conference call for informational purposes.

University officials have said that trustees will receive the written report at the same time as the public. La Torre declined to comment on whether a select group of trustees and administrators had received verbal updates as the investigation was under way.

The CDT has learned high level academic department heads received an update on the Freeh report, getting a general understanding that they should expect serious and significant findings.

While the Freeh report will be released today, other investigations are still under way, including ones by the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Education. 

Education spokesman Justin Hamilton said: “I think it’s safe to say we’ll work with all relevant campus officials and law enforcement personal to determine whether or not there was a violation of the Clery Act. Beyond that, our investigation is on going and we have no more information to add at this time.”

The Associated Press reported that the NCAA has been collecting information from the Freeh team, but that Penn State still will have to respond to NCAA questions.

The NCAA didn’t give a specific timeline for deciding what, if any action, it will take.

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy

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