Penn State taps former FBI head


PHILADELPHIA -- Former FBI director Louis Freeh, tapped to lead Penn State's investigation into the child sex abuse allegations against a former assistant football coach, said his inquiry will go as far back as 1975, a much longer period than a grand jury report issued earlier this month.

Freeh was named Monday to oversee the university board of trustees' internal investigation into the abuse allegations that ultimately led to the ouster of longtime football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier.

Freeh said his goal was to conduct a comprehensive, fair and quick review. His team of former FBI agents, federal prosecutors and others has already begun the process of reading the grand jury report and looking at records.

"We will immediately report any evidence of criminality to law enforcement authorities," said Freeh, who has no direct connection to the university.

Penn State has faced criticism since announcing that its internal investigation would be led by two university trustees, Merck pharmaceutical company CEO Kenneth Frazier and state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis.

Faculty members on Friday called for an independent investigation of how the university handled abuse allegations, and the faculty senate endorsed a resolution asking for an independent investigation.

In announcing Freeh's appointment, Frazier stressed the former FBI director's independence. Freeh will be empowered to investigate employees up to and including the board of trustees itself, Frazier said.

"No one is above scrutiny," Frazier said. "He has complete rein to follow any lead, to look into every corner of the university to get to the bottom of what happened, and then to make recommendations that will help ensure that it never happens again."

Freeh said he had been assured there would be "no favoritism." He called that "the main condition of my engagement."

Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of molesting eight boys over a 15-year period beginning in the mid-1990s. Authorities say some assaults happened on campus and were reported to administrators but not to police.

Authorities say Sandusky, who retired from Penn State in 1999, met the children through The Second Mile, a youth charity that he started in 1977. By going back as far as 1975, Freeh's investigation would cover the entire time the charity has existed and 24 of the 30 years that Sandusky worked at Penn State.

Amid the scandal, Penn State's trustees ousted Spanier and Paterno. The trustees said Spanier and Paterno failed to act after a graduate assistant claimed he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in a campus shower in 2002.

Paterno, who has the most wins of any major college football coach, has conceded he should have done more. Spanier has said he would have reported a crime if he had suspected one had been committed.

Sandusky has said he is innocent. He has acknowledged he showered with boys but said he never molested them.

Former school administrators Tim Curley -- who is on administrative leave -- and Gary Schultz are charged with not properly alerting authorities to suspected abuse and with perjury. They maintain their innocence.

Freeh founded an investigation firm after leading the FBI from 1993 to 2001.

After his time at the FBI, Freeh also did work for credit card giant MBNA, which has business relationships with Penn State and its alumni association. But a spokeswoman for Freeh's investigation said in a statement that it would not compromise the probe.

Rod Erickson, Penn State's new president, also lauded the selection. He vowed complete cooperation and said Freeh's findings "will prompt immediate actions for which I will remain responsible."

 

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