How the Penn State Report Implicates Top Officials
An independent report paints a damning portrait of top officials at Pennsylvania State University and how they dealt with accusations of sexual misconduct against a former football coach, Jerry Sandusky. Related story / Annotated Guide to the Report / Full Coverage
Graham B. Spanier
What the Report SaysMr. Spanier told investigators that he had never heard a report from anyone that Mr. Sandusky was engaged in any sexual abuse of children. But the report cites e-mails that kept Mr. Spanier in the loop after the mother of an 11-year-old boy who was groped by Mr. Sandusky in 1998 reported the incident. And in 2001 Mr. Spanier approved a plan to keep another report of abuse under wraps, saying that discussing the issue with Mr. Sandusky rather than notifying the state's Department of Welfare would be the "humane" way to proceed.
“By not promptly and fully advising the Board of Trustees about the 1998 and 2001 child sexual-abuse allegations against Sandusky and the subsequent grand-jury investigation of him,” investigators concluded, “Spanier failed in his duties as president.”
What’s Next“It certainly appears to me that an actual indictment of Spanier would appear now to be all but inevitable,” said John M. Burkoff, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and expert on criminal law in Pennsylvania.
Head football coach
What the Report SaysRepresentatives of Mr. Paterno, who died in January, have said that the longtime coach never used e-mail or played a role in influencing university investigations. The report places shared responsibility on Mr. Paterno for several critical decisions, including Mr. Sandusky’s continued access to the campus during a 1998 criminal investigation of his behavior and after he officially retired, in 1999. Other university officials had planned to tell child-welfare authorities about a 2001 report of abuse but changed their minds after the athletic director, Timothy M. Curley, discussed the issue with Mr. Paterno, the report says.
“The facts are the facts,” Louis J. Freeh, who led the investigation, said of Mr. Paterno in a news conference on Thursday. “He was an integral part of the act to conceal.”
What’s NextA statement from Mr. Paterno’s family on Thursday continued to defend the coach, while acknowledging that he could have gone further in reporting the abuse. “Everyone shares the responsibility,” the statement says.
Gary C. Schultz
Senior VP for finance and business
What the Report SaysIn 1998 Jerry Sandusky groped an 11-year-old boy in a Penn State athletic facility, the report says, and the boy’s mother reported the incident to the Penn State police. Confidential notes from Mr. Schultz indicate that he was aware of the gravity of the situation. “Behavior—at best inappropriate @ worst sexual improprieties,” one note says. Two days after the incident, additional notes from Mr. Schultz say that a second boy had told the police a similar story: “Locker room. Wrestling. Kissed on head. Hugging from behind in shower.” The notes end with questions: “Is this the opening of Pandora's box? Other children?”
The police later determined that there had been no criminal behavior and closed the matter. Several weeks later, Mr. Schultz wrote in an e-mail to Mr. Curley that “I think the matter has been appropriately investigated, and I hope it is now behind us.”
What’s NextMr. Schultz is charged with perjury and failing to report child abuse and is expected to stand trial later this year.
Timothy M. Curley
What the Report SaysIn a 2001 e-mail to President Spanier, Mr. Curley proposed not telling child-welfare authorities about Mr. Sandusky’s reported abuse of a boy in a Penn State locker room. “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday,” Mr. Curley said, he now preferred to discuss the report only with Mr. Sandusky himself, a plan that Mr. Spanier approved. People interviewed by investigators described Mr. Curley as someone who followed instructions regardless of the consequences and was “loyal to a fault.” One senior Penn State official called him Mr. Paterno’s “errand boy.”
What’s NextMr. Curley is charged with perjury and failing to report child abuse and is expected to stand trial later this year.
Board of Trustees
What the Report SaysThe Board of Trustees “failed to exercise its oversight and reasonable inquiry responsibilities.” It did not demand regular reporting by university administrators about major risks to Penn State, and it was hindered by its “overconfidence” in the abilities of the university's president, Graham B. Spanier, and other leaders.
“The board did not create a ‘tone at the top’ environment wherein Sandusky and other senior university officials believed they were accountable to it,” the report says. Some trustees reported that their meetings felt “scripted” or that they were simply “rubber-stamping” major decisions already made by the university’s president and a small group of trustees within the board.
At key moments when university administrators were aware of accusations against Mr. Sandusky, in 1998, 2001, and 2011, the board failed to exercise its oversight functions and did not require university leaders to provide information or answers.