By Ben Present
Of the Legal Staff
The findings of a team hired by Penn State to investigate university officials’ response to sexual-abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will be released on Thursday, the leader of the investigation announced Tuesday.
The investigation, led by former FBI director and federal judge Louis B. Freeh, is expected to detail how much, and for how long, key figures at the university knew about Sandusky’s sexual abuse, for which the former defensive coordinator was convicted of 45 counts last month. The report is expected to examine the roles of former athletic director Tim Curley, former vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz, former university president Graham Spanier, and former head football coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, among others.
All four administrators were ousted by the university’s board of trustees last November in the wake of the scandal. That same month, a chairman appointed by the board granted Freeh and his law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, “complete rein to follow any lead" and asked them to "look into every corner of the university.”
The announcement from Freeh’s team comes days after the publishing of press reports that appear to show Spanier, Schultz and Curley waivered about going to authorities after hearing allegations about Sandusky. According to the reports, citing emails between Spanier and the two administrators, the administrators declined to contact authorities.
"This is a more humane and upfront way to handle this,” Schultz allegedly wrote.
Spanier allegedly wrote: "The only downside for us is if the message (to Sandusky) isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it."
CNN reported that it did not have the actual emails, but was read their alleged contents by unnamed sources.
Spanier’s attorneys Tuesday said the ex-president told Freeh’s investigators last week that he was never made aware of any sexual-abuse or criminal allegations against Sandusky, according to CNN.
"Selected leaks, without the full context, are distorting the public record and creating a false picture," attorneys Peter Vaira and Elizabeth Ainslie said in a written statement.
Schultz and Curley, both facing charges of failure to report child abuse and perjury, have denied any wrongdoing.
Members of the public, the media, attorneys and the university are set to be able to view the report for the first time on Thursday. According to a press release from Freeh, Thursday morning at 9 a.m. – when the report is set to go live - will be the first time anybody outside of the investigative team will see its findings.
At the November press conference, Freeh said he had brought on several former FBI agents and former U.S. attorneys to assist with the investigation and said the investigative team would report "any evidence of criminality" to police authorities if and when such came up.
"Our mandate is clear," Freeh told about 40 members of the media in November. "We have been tasked to investigate this matter fully, fairly and completely. We have been asked to do this with a commitment to show no favoritism toward any of the parties whose actions we will be reviewing, including the board of trustees itself."
Civil attorneys representing Sandusky’s accusers have long awaited the Freeh report for what will likely be an array of civil suits filed against the university and Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile.
Philadelphia plaintiffs attorney Thomas R. Kline, who represents a man identified as Victim 5, called the Freeh report a "resource manual and guidebook" for settlement discussions and a "roadmap" for litigation.
But, according to recent press reports, the report’s contents will delve deeper than the Sandusky scandal. According to a news report in The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing anonymous sources interviewed by Freeh’s team, the report could show that Paterno preferred to keep disciplinary matters involving his players within the confines of the football program.
A website -- www.TheFreehReportonPSU.com -- has been created for the public to view the report when it is released.