Penn State's recent "leadership" ensures the university will provide teachable moments for generations to come - unfortunately it will be for all of the wrong reasons.
The actions of university leaders leading up to and after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky in November on child sexual abuse charges will be textbook examples of what not to do.
The failures were many and the bad decisions were damaging not only to the school and its reputation but also to the boys who potentially could have been spared from being abused by Sandusky.
A report released Thursday morning by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his law firm of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP spells out how a culture of secrecy misplaced priorities and lack of administrative oversight provided a safe haven for Sandusky to molest boys seemingly without fear of consequences.
The failures were many:
The board's apathy allowed then university President Graham Spanier to keep the members in the dark on the investigations into Sandusky and left them unprepared when the charges were announced and the public uproar mounted.
That created the poorly handled firing of longtime football coach Joe Paterno via telephone and the ouster of Spanier as president. The Freeh report notes that most of the board now believes Paterno's termination was not properly handed and the board "was ill-prepared to address the situation."
Few would disagree.
Despite their comments to the contrary, the Freeh investigation found that Spanier, Paterno, then-athletic director Tim Curley and former Vice President of Business Affairs Gary Schultz were aware of a 1998 investigation into Sandusky showering with a young boy that didn't lead to criminal charges at the time.
That knowledge should have triggered alarms when then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported seeing Sandusky in a sexual position with a young boy in a university locker room in 2001. Yet the administrators didn't alert child welfare authorities, seek a police investigation or attempt to learn the identity of the boy and provide help to him.
To date, the boy's identity remains a mystery.
Astonishingly, Sandusky's attorney reports in a 2001 meeting, Sandusky offered to give Curley the name of the boy, but he did not want to know.
How could Curley not want to know, unless there was a desire not to investigate?
Spanier, Curley and Schultz arrogantly thought they could manage the Sandusky situation, even though it's clear they knew the ramifications would be serious if they failed.
Freeh found Schultz's confidential notes on the 1998 shower incident that state: "Behavior - at best inappropriate @ worst sexual improprieties." He also jotted down, "Is this opening of pandora's box?"
Unfortunately, it was, as McQueary's 2001 report demonstrated.
Even then the same administrators thought they could manage the situation by talking with Sandusky rather than reporting him to police and child welfare authorities. Freeh notes in an email Spanier tells Curley and Schultz, "The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed."
It certainly wasn't the humane approach for the boys who were Sandusky's victims.
The lack of desire to protect the children is appalling. Now, it's time for Spanier, Curley and Schultz to feel the repercussions for their actions.
This is most apparent in relation to a janitor witnessing Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy in a locker room in the fall of 2000. The janitor told co-workers what he saw. Another janitor witnessed two pairs of feet in the same shower and later saw Sandusky and a young boy leaving the locker room holding hands, the Freeh report states.
Yet the janitors never reported what they saw out of fear of losing their jobs. One of the janitors told Freeh investigators: "I know Paterno has so much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone." He also said, "Football runs this university" and felt the school could close ranks to protect the program at all costs.
Sadly, he was right as evidenced by the lack of action against Sandusky. Clearly this is something that must change.
One can spot more failures on the part of Penn State throughout the Freeh report. While it is a long document, we encourage people to read it. Copies are posted at various places on the Internet, including at altoonamirror.com
The fallout from the Freeh report remains to be seen. Clearly, Penn State has a lot of work ahead to address the shortcomings found. Replacing a few people won't be enough.
Penn State has to change so that people can feel free to report questionable activity without fear of reprisals. There has to be delineation between being a fan and thinking someone can do no wrong. There has to be much more accountability between administrators and the trustees and with the public.
Penn State continues to be a great institution with an impressive football program.
But the so-called leaders failed the school, the students, the alumni and the community. They damaged the Penn State brand.
Fixing that will require time and a lot of work. The Freeh report helps by showing the shortcomings.
Now those who "bleed blue" need to learn from the mistakes and keep the pressure on until the chant: "We are ... Penn State" exemplifies the highest standards in every respect - including protecting our children from predators, no matter what the cost.