It is appalling - but not surprising - that Penn State officials were more concerned with “bad publicity” than the welfare of children who were being sexually abused by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. This is the conclusion of a report that was just released, based on the eight-month investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. Freeh was hired to determine why school officials who were aware of complaints of child sexual abuse did not stop Sandusky or report him to the police.
The investigation was based on 430 interviews and reviews of 3.5 million emails and other documents.
The report said that Joe Paterno, along with officials Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and
former president Graham Spanier, "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities." The report blamed these school officials for not stopping Sandusky and failing to protect other children from his predatory behavior. The four officials showed a "striking lack of empathy" for the victims of Sandusky's abuse and empowered him to continue abusing, the report said. Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child abuse in June. Read the full report.
As I pointed out last month in my blog on the Sandusky case, there are powerful lessons here for all parents, educators – and everyone who is concerned about
children. As a former school district official, I will tell you that institutions are concerned with protecting their own reputations. Is it blatantly at the expense of kids, as it was in the Penn State situation? Hopefully not, but it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to hold schools, sports organizations, religious and social organizations accountable.
The blog, What We Should Have Learned From the Jerry Sandusky Case, urges parents and educators to stop being “reverent, diffident and polite,” where their children are concerned. The Freeh report emphasizes the need for eternal vigilance and the danger of blind faith. Here is the link to my Huffington Post piece, which offers tips to recognize the warning signs of child sexual abuse: