PHILADELPHIA – Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh will lead Penn State’s newly created Special Committee in an independent investigation of the university’s actions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
Chairman of the committee Ken Frazier, president and CEO of Merck and Co., announced at a press conference Monday that Freeh was chosen to lead the probe based on his “unimpeachable and unparalleled experience in law and criminal justice.” Frazier later added Freeh has no previous connection to Penn State or Pennsylvania.
Freeh will investigate the facts that have arisen after the grand jury presentment of Jerry Sandusky was released Nov. 5, and the investigation as a whole will include a review of events dating back as early as 1975. Since the grand jury presentment was publicized, the Board of Trustees announced the end of both former Penn State President Graham Spanier and former head football coach Joe Paterno’s careers at the university. Former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Interim Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz have resigned – in Curley’s case, temporarily. Schultz returned to retirement.
The investigation’s findings will be used to make changes to university policy with a heavy focus on how to report criminal behavior to law enforcement, Frazier said.
“I am committed to ensuring that our independent investigation be conducted in a thorough, fair, comprehensive manner, leaving no stone unturned, and without any fear or favor,” Freeh said. “We will examine all the relevant records, evidence, information, facts circumstances. We will attempt to interview all necessary and appropriate witnesses.”
Freeh said he initiated the investigation in the last 48 hours with the review of the grand jury presentment. Other documents are next in line to be reviewed that date back to 1975, he said. In 1977, Sandusky founded The Second Mile and took over as the defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team.
Freeh has also contacted the Attorney General’s office, but has yet to contact Pennsylvania State Police or University Police. The cooperation of both law enforcement agencies will be requested in the upcoming days, he said.
Though police assistance in the investigation is essential, Freeh emphasized he isn’t conducting a “criminal investigation.” But if any criminality arises, he said it will be reported to law enforcement.
“If our investigation identifies any additional victims of sexual crimes against, or exploitation of children, we will immediately report this to law enforcement authorities,” Freeh said.
Freeh said there won’t be scrutiny as to who is investigated and questioned. Every trustee and university employee is fair game, he said.
Freeh also requested the assistance of the public in the investigation. Those who wish to communicate any information to the committee can do so via a phone hotline, (855)-290-3382, or via email at PSUhelp@freehgroup.com.
Neither Freeh or Frazier could specify how long the investigation will last. Frazier also couldn’t specify how much the investigation is costing the university financially.
The Board of Trustees announced that a special committee would be created after Schultz and Curley, who have each been charged with perjury and failure to report, resigned. Frazier and Ron Tomalis, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and trustee, were respectively named chairman and vice chairmain at the trustee meeting Nov. 11.
The Special Committee is comprised of nine members, including:
- Chairman Ken Frazier, CEO and president of Merck and Co. and trustee
- Vice chairman Ron Tomalis, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and trustee
- Mark Dambly, president of Pennrose Properties, LLC and trustee
- Jesse Arnelle, attorney and trustee
- Keith Eckel, sole proprietor and president of Fred W. Eckel and Sons Farms, Inc., board chairman of Nationwide Insurance and a trustee
- Karen Peetz, vice chairwoman and CEO of Financial Markets and Treasury Services, Bank of New York Mellon and a trustee
- Dan Hagen, chairman of Faculty Senate and a professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences
- Rodney Hughes, graduate student and former student trustee
A former student trustee whose term just ended this year, Hughes (graduate-higher education) represents the lone student voice on the committee.
“The decision was made to choose one student, Frazier said. “We didn’t at the outset decide whether that would be a graduate student or an undergraduate student. We wanted to have one representative of the student body and that’s what we’ve done.”
Hughes, who earned his undergraduate degree at University Park and is now pursing a Ph.D. in higher education, said he hopes he’ll be able to represent the student body on the committee.
“It’s hard to think of the situation in positive terms,” he said. “But I’m going to do the best I can.”