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High Ranking Penn State Officials Miss Opportunities to Protect Children

Today, Louis Freeh’s firm released its report concerning the special investigation it did for Penn State University’s board of directors.

The Sandusky case has been widely publicized. His conduct got him convicted in Centre County. This report is different though, and does not focus on Jerry Sandusky’s conduct… It follows the conduct mainly of Spanier, Curley, Schultz, and Paterno. What was most striking is the report’s repetitive pounding on the missing fact: none of the four showed concern for whether the children were harmed. It was the self-preservationist attitude that came through the report.

Case in point is Spanier’s comment when deciding not to contact the Department of Public Welfare in 2001, “only downside for us if the message isn’t heard and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed.” That statement alone begs many questions:

  • Humane to whom?
  • Reasonable in what way?
  • Who is vulnerable?  

Through all the talk, there is never a consideration for what is humane to the children, what is reasonable to protect a child who has been sexually abused, or whether other children are vulnerable.  It was all about protecting them and the university.

The other obvious point the report makes is that the board had a duty, and we are talking about from 1998 through 2011, to have some kind of mechanism which would trigger a discussion of this kind of problem; and they didn’t. The structure of the organizations under the board and under the university are described and discussed, but again, it is what was missing. There was no policy or procedure which allowed the board to be made aware of criminal activity performed on campus, and they had not provided for any check and balance on the decision making of Graham Spanier.

Most painful is the report’s manner in which it describes failings of the university officials and the board, and then recounts the abuse that occurred after the opportunity was not taken to stop Sandusky, at each stage.  Officials sweep his conduct under the rug, and more reports of abuse.  More sweeping, more abuse.  Many of the young men suffered needlessly.  Had only one of the highly paid, highly revered, and sophisticated self-preservationists among Spanier, Curley, Paterno, and Schultz used their authority to make it stop, fewer boys would have been harmed.

If you have an injury or a loved one is injured or killed by another’s actions in Pennsylvania feel free to contact a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer at Schmidt Kramer. We are based in Central Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and can answer any questions you may have about your rights.

Ph: (717) 888-8888.