New report says Freeh report "flawed"
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WJAC) —
An internal report by seven Penn State trustees questions the findings of the 2012 Freeh Report and the methods used to draw its conclusions.
The document, officially titled, “Report to the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University on the Freeh Report’s flawed methodology and conclusions” was completed and presented to the full trustee board in the summer of 2018.
The seven trustees who commissioned the report said the full board decided to not make its findings public.
In 2011, in the wake of the arrest of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on charges that included involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, the university commissioned former FBI Director Louis Freeh to compile a report on the university’s involvement. Freeh was reportedly paid $8 million.
In its report, the group of seven former and current trustees concluded Penn State paid for an independent investigation that was not independent, fair or thorough.
The trustees' report said the Freeh report investigators used deeply flawed methodology and the report is full of factual mistakes. Page 18 of the trustees' report, titled “Use of coercion,” said the Freeh investigators “shouted, were insulting and demanded that interviewees give them specific information -- such as -- tell me Joe Paterno knew Sandusky was abusing kids.”
This report said some university employees who were interviewed were told cooperation was a key to keeping their jobs. In fact, one employee told the investigators of the Freeh report that he was fired for not cooperating.
The trustee's report said the Freeh team did not interview many key figures in the Sandusky scandal, including Sandusky, Paterno and university administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schutz, as well as Mike McQueary.
The Freeh report said Penn State has a football culture problem. But the trustees' report says Freeh had a conflict of interest with the NCAA, and that his company was attempting to be the organization’s go-to investigative firm.
The trustees' report also contains a long discussion about the Freeh team’s claim of being independent, with the trustees' report finding the Freeh team was actually sharing information with the NCAA, Penn State administrators and the prosecutors in the Sandusky case.
Freeh has long defended his work at Penn State, saying in the past, “Since 2015, these misguided alumni have been fighting rearguard action to turn the clocks back and resist the positive changes which the PSU students and faculty have fully embraced.” Freeh’s report included more than 100 recommended university policy changes, many of which were adopted by Penn State.
Penn State released this statement about the trustee's report:
"The public disclosure of this unauthorized report in apparent violation of court-ordered confidentiality is reprehensible. We wish to make clear the report does not represent the position or opinions of the Penn State Board of Trustees or the University in any way. It is the expression of the personal opinions of the authors. It is also important to understand the University obtained a confidentiality order for the Freeh materials from a court in order to protect and promote a culture that asks employees to tell the truth and to speak up and report wrongdoing when they see it, without fear of retaliation. Finding the truth is dependent on such a commitment of confidentiality. This leak undermines these values and discourages a culture of reporting at Penn State. Furthermore, it is unfair to the men and women who provided information to Judge Freeh and his team, with an understanding that what they said to the interviewer would be maintained in confidence to the extent possible."
In response, the seven trustees said:
“We are offended by the implication that we are anything but conscientious stewards of the University who have honored our confidentiality obligations. The fact is the Board’s tacit acceptance of the Freeh Report led to profound reputational damage, along with over $250 million in costs so far to Penn State. It is perplexing that the University clings to the conclusions of a report that has been criticized by so many, including Penn State President Eric Barron. We fervently believe that the best way forward is for the Board and the University to openly and thoughtfully consider the comprehensive and well-researched findings from our review so that we can finally come to an honest conclusion.”