AP: Freeh report rebukes PSU for hiding abuse allegations

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AP: Freeh report rebukes PSU for hiding abuse allegations

PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials hushed up child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago for fear of bad publicity, allowing the former assistant football coach to prey on other youngsters, according to a scathing report issued Thursday on the scandal.

"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," said former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was hired by university trustees to look into what has become one of sports' biggest scandals. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."

After an eight-month investigation, Freeh's firm produced a 267-page report that concluded that the Hall of Fame coach, President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse."

Paterno "was an integral part of this active decision to conceal" and his firing was justified, Freeh said at a news conference. He called the officials' disregard for child victims "callous and shocking."

Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts for abusing 10 boys. The scandal led to the ouster of Paterno and Spanier. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges accusing them of lying to a grand jury and failing to report abuse. They have pleaded not guilty.

Asked whether the officials' actions amounted to a crime such as conspiracy or obstruction, Freeh said that would be up to a grand jury.

School leaders "empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access" to campus and to affiliate with the football program, the report said. The access, the report states, "provided Sandusky with the very currency that enabled him to attract his victims."

Freeh said officials had opportunities in 1998 and 2001 to step in.

Sexual abuse might have been prevented if university officials had banned Sandusky from bringing children onto campus after a 1998 inquiry, the report said. Despite their knowledge of the police probe into Sandusky showering with a boy in a football locker room, Spanier, Paterno, Curley and Schultz took no action to limit his access to campus, the report said.

The May 1998 complaint by a woman whose son came home with wet hair after showering with Sandusky didn't result in charges at the time. The report says Schultz was worried the matter could be opening "Pandora's box."

Then, in 2001, after a member of Paterno's staff saw Sandusky in a campus shower with a boy, officials did bar him from bringing children to campus and decided not to report him to child welfare authorities.

"There's more red flags here than you could count over a long period of time," Freeh said.

In a statement, Paterno's family said the longtime coach made mistakes that he acknowledged but "never interfered with any investigation" and was fooled by Sandusky.

"The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept. The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn't fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events," the statement said. "If Joe Paterno had understood what Sandusky was, a fear of bad publicity would not have factored into his actions."

Defense lawyer Caroline Roberto, who represents Curley, was reading the report and had no immediate comment, according to a spokeswoman. Messages were left for lawyers for Spanier and Schultz.

Trustee Anthony Lubrano, a critic of the board's dismissal of Paterno in November, said the board was still formulating a response.

Freeh also said Sandusky's conduct was in part a result of the school's lack of transparency, which stemmed from a "failure of governance" on the part of officials and the board of trustees. He said the collective inaction and mindset at the top of the university trickled all the way down to a school janitor who was afraid for his job and opted to not report seeing sex abuse in a school locker room in 2000.

The report also singled out the revered Penn State football program - one built on the motto "success with honor" - for criticism. It says Paterno and university leaders allowed Sandusky to retire in 1999, "not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, with future 'visibility' at Penn State'," allowing him to groom victims.

Investigators, however, found no evidence linking his 168,000 retirement package to the 1998 police investigation. Freeh called the payout unprecedented but said there was no evidence it was an attempt to buy Sandusky's silence.

Sandusky's trial last month included gut-wrenching testimony from eight young men who said he abused them as boys, sometimes on campus, and included testimony that showed he used his prestige as a university celebrity to manipulate the children.

By contrast, Freeh's team focused on Penn State and what its employees did - or did not do - to protect children.

More than 430 current or former school employees were interviewed since November, including nearly everyone associated with the football program under Paterno. The Hall of Fame coach died of lung cancer in January at age 85, without telling Freeh's team his account of what happened.

Some of the report's most damning evidence against Paterno consists of handwritten notes and emails that portray him as being involved with a decision by the officials not to tell child welfare authorities about the 2001 encounter.

Spanier, Schultz and Curley drew up a plan that called for reporting Sandusky to the state Department of Child Welfare. But Curley later said in an email that he changed his mind about the plan "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe."

Spanier concurred but noted "the only downside for us is if the message isn't (heard) and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it."

The emails also show Paterno closely followed the 1998 allegation.

With the report now complete, the NCAA said Penn State now must address four key questions concerning "institutional control and ethics policies," as outlined in a letter sent to the school last fall.

"Penn State's response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action," said Bob Williams, the NCAA's vice president of communications. "We expect Penn State's continued cooperation in our examination of these issues."

The U.S. Department of Education is examining whether the school violated the Clery Act, which requires reporting of certain crimes on campus, including ones of a sexual nature. The report said Penn State's "awareness and interest" in Clery Act compliance was "significantly lacking."

Only one form used to report such crimes was completed on campus from 2007 through 2011, according to the Freeh findings. And no record exists of Paterno, Curley or assistant coach Mike McQueary reporting that McQueary saw Sandusky in a shower with a boy in 2001, as they would be obligated to do under the Clery Act.

As of last November, Penn State's policies for Clery compliance were still in draft form and had not been implemented, the report found.

U.S. Department of Education said it was still examining whether Penn State violated the Clery Act, but declined to comment on Freeh's report.

Mary Krupa, an 18-year-old Penn State freshman who grew up in State College, said the conclusion that the school's highest officials were derelict in protecting children didn't shake her love of the town or the school.

"The actions of five or six people don't reflect on the hundreds of thousands" of students and faculty who make up the Penn State community, she said while walking through the student union building on campus.

Freeh said he regretted the damage the findings would do to Paterno's "terrific legacy" but there was no attempt to pin the blame on the late coach.

"What my report says is what the evidence and the facts show," he said.

Christian Beveridge, a masonry worker who grew up near Penn State, said the findings will ruin Paterno's legacy but not the closeness that people in town and fans feel for him.

"He built this town," said Beveridge, 40, resting in the shade on campus during a break. "All of his victories, he'll be remembered by everyone in town for a long time, but there will be that hesitation."

___

Armas reported from Scranton and Scolforo from Harrisburg. Marc Levy in State College, Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia and Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

High School Lites Week 6 capsules and picks

High School Lites Week 6 capsules and picks

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 6 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Oswego East finally beat crosstown rival Oswego? Can Naperville North's magical season continue as they host division power Neuqua Valley? Can Stevenson avoid Libertyville's upset bid and win on the road? And can Mount Carmel bounce back this week and beat Brother Rice?

Oswego at No. 24 Oswego East, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Oswego (5-0/5-0) has beaten Oswego East (5-0/5-0) 11 straight times. But is this the night that the Wolves break that winning streak? Oswego East has put up points in bunches this season behind Iowa-bound RB Ivory Kelly-Martin, senior QB Jaylon Banks and a host of talented players in the skills department. Oswego, coached by Brian Cooney, has started to get its offense in gear. As for the defense, they’ve allowed just 48 points all season. Keep an eye on junior DT Noah Shannon along with senior WR Ray Chmielinski. Last possession wins?

EDGY's Pick: Oswego East 27, Oswego 26 

Highland Park at Deerfield, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Highland Park (3-2/0-1) is looking to bounce back this week after losing to Glenbrook North 42-28 last Friday. The Giants have one of the top running backs in the conference in senior DJ Penick. Deerfield (3-2/0-1) and head coach Steve Winiecki are also looking to rebound. They lost 10-7 last Friday to Vernon Hills. The Warriors also have a do-it-all standout in senior WR/DB Charlie Jones and three star-ranked senior ILB/DE Joshua Maize. Can the Giants get the running game going against the Warriors defense?

EDGY's Pick: Highland Park 31, Deerfield 24

Woodstock North at Johnsburg, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Johnsburg (5-0/2-0) and head coach Dan DeBoeuf will make sure to get the football into the hands of standout senior RB Alex Peete early and often. But the Skyhawks can (and will) throw the ball with QB Riley Buchanan. Woodstock North and head coach Jeff Schroeder will also run the ball with the likes of RBs Casey Dycus and Collin Mergi. Which defense will rise to the occasion?

EDGY's Pick: Johnsburg 36, Woodstock North 30

Wilmington at Lisle, 7:00 p.m. at Benedictine Univ.

EDGY's Take: Wilmington (5-0/3-0) was able to get head coach Jeff Reents his 200th win last Friday with a 43-6 win over Seneca. Senior RB Owen Weaver has been a load to stop this season. Lisle (3-2/2-1) is led by former Addison Trail Hall of Fame coach Paul Parpet. Parpet will look to get senior do-it-all QB Mark McGrath involved as much as possible. Can the Lisle defense slow down the Wilmington running attack?

EDGY's Pick: Wilmington 37, Lisle 21

Lincoln-Way East at Andrew, 7:15 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East (4-1/2-1) will take the very short drive over to Andrew (0-5/0-3) in this Southwest Suburban conference game. Lincoln-Way East has gotten a big season from its two headed monster at quarterback, seniors Jake Arthur and Max Shafer. Andrew (0-5/0-3) and first year head coach Adam Lewandowski has been battling an overloaded schedule (22-8 opponents combined record) and a struggling offense so far this season.

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 41, Andrew 12

No. 6 Neuqua Valley at No. 14 Naperville North, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Neuqua Valley (5-0/4-0) was expected to be in the DuPage Valley conference title hunt. The Wildcats have a ton of skills and talent including Notre Dame commit WR/S Isaiah Robertson. Junior QB Jake Eskoff has also been vital for the Wildcats this season. Naperville North (5-0/4-0) and head coach Sean Drendel will rely on a deep senior class, a balanced offense and a defense that has improved each week. Can the Neuqua Valley defense get the football back quickly, giving their offense more touches? Can North’s defense limit the Wildcats’ big play ability?

EDGY's Pick: Neuqua Valley 28, Naperville North 21

No. 16 Stevenson at Libertyville, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Stevenson’s (4-1/3-0) only loss came back in Week 1 to Palatine, 28-20. The Patriots’ offense has averaged over 40 points per game since that game and senior QB Aidan O'Connell has been a key. A few of his top targets include senior twins WRs, Henry and Michael Marchese. Libertyville (3-2/2-1) and head coach Mike Jones is looking top bounce back after losing last Friday to Lake Forest. On offense, the Wildcats will rely on senior QB Jack Ruskell and a big, physical offensive line led by Iowa State commit OT Tyler Jost. Can Libertyville slow down the Stevenson passing game? 

EDGY's Pick: Stevenson 28, Libertyville 21

Mt. Carmel at No. 3 Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Mount Carmel (3-2/0-2) is trying to shake off a loss last Friday to St. Rita as the Caravan are in serious need of a headline win. Keep an eye on junior do-it-all RB/WR/QB Alek Thomas and NIU commit RB Michael Kennedy. Brother Rice (5-0/1-0) has been on a serious roll as senior QB Dino Borrelli is having a terrific senior season. Fellow senior Ricky Smalling (Illinois) is a threat at wide receiver at all times. Can the Caravan win on the road? Can the Brother Rice defense slow down the Mount Carmel option game?

EDGY's Pick: Brother Rice 34, Mount Carmel 27

No. 19 Bradley-Bourbonnais at Lincoln-Way Central, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Bradley (5-0/3-0) found itself down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter last Friday against Bolingbrook. But they staged a stunning comeback, winning 22-21. The Boilermakers will look towards Iowa commit WR/RB Cam Harrell. Lincoln-Way Central (4-1/2-1) has been solid all season. The Knights offense is led by QB Hunter Campbell and his top target is WR Matt Pollack. Can Bradley continue to make big plays when needed? Can Lincoln-Way Central limit the big play ability of Bradley?

EDGY's Pick: Bradley 27, Lincoln-Way Central 24

Viewers’ Choice Game

St. Edward at Fenton, 7:15 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Edward (4-1/0-1) took its first loss last Friday, 49-3, to 3A top-ranked Immaculate Conception. The Green Wave will look to get back in the win column this week behind junior QB Kyle Mlinarich plus junior WR Saveon Smith and the Green Wave's potent passing game. Fenton (2-3/0-1) and head coach Mark Kos have been up and down all season as both schools try to get in the win column in Metro Suburban Blue play. Can the Fenton defense slow down the Green Wave passing attack?

EDGY's Pick: St. Edward 41, Fenton 14

Bowl eligibility no sure thing for Notre Dame, especially with a loss to Syracuse

Bowl eligibility no sure thing for Notre Dame, especially with a loss to Syracuse

Notre Dame hasn’t fallen short of bowl eligibility since 2007, a year that invokes visceral reactions around South Bend. But at 1-3, Notre Dame’s chances of getting to six wins aren't necessarily healthy in 2016. 

S&P+ gives Notre Dame a 21 percent chance of going 6-6, a 9 percent chance of going 7-5 and a 2 percent chance of going 8-4, so added up that’s only a 32 percent chance of becoming bowl eligible. The most likely records, according to S&P+, are 5-7 (30 percent) and 4-8 (25 percent). Notre Dame has a better chance of finishing 2-10 (3 percent) than it does 8-4, by these numbers. 

(For more on S&P+ and the methodology behind it, click here)

The reason behind those, in all honestly, shockingly low numbers: only three games in which S&P+ favors Notre Dame to win going forward. Those are Syracuse (65 percent), Navy (71 percent) and Army (78 percent). Win probabilities for Notre Dame’s other games: 40 percent (N.C. State), 31 percent (Stanford), 28 percent (Miami), 36 percent (Virginia Tech) and 39 percent (USC). 

FEI is more optimistic about Notre Dame’s bowl chances, giving the Irish a better than 60 percent chance to win games against Syracuse, N.C. State, Miami, Navy, Army and Virginia Tech. But FEI also gave Notre Dame a 90.8 percent chance of beating Duke heading into last week, which is less an indictment of the numbers and more an indictment of how poorly the Irish played against the Blue Devils. 

Syracuse, though, looks like it’ll present a difficult challenge for Notre Dame. The Orange rank 36th in offensive S&P+, largely due to their excellent passing game (15th in success rate). Notre Dame ranks 78th in defensive S&P+ and 121st in passing success rate, which certainly looks like a concerning matchup.

Syracuse’s defense is bad, though (101st in S&P+), so Notre Dame’s top-15 offense should be able to put up some points. In short: Expect a shootout if Notre Dame does win on Saturday at MetLife Stadium. 

But if Notre Dame loses to fall to 1-4, sound the alarms. Or start planning your football-less vacation during bowl season.