Penn State Responds to Freeh Report, Promises Changes

School issues mea culpa and vows to create a "culture of honesty, integrity, responsible leadership and accountability."

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SCRANTON, Pa. – In a statement released today in response to Former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s scathing indictment of Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the school’s board and administration vowed to “take every action to ensure that events like these never happen again in our university community. The focus of all of our actions going forward will be on driving a culture of honesty, integrity, responsible leadership and accountability at all levels and within all units of our institution.”

The school also vowed to continue to offer counseling to Sandusky’s victims, listen to them and take affirmative steps to address the harm they have suffered. Additionally, Penn State officials pledged to build greater awareness of the societal issue of child sexual abuse by partnering with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape {PCAR} and creating the Center for the Protection of Children at the Hershey Medical Center. The statement says Penn State “intends to be a constructive leader in preventing, reporting and responding to such abuse. This is a problem that plagues our nation, and we have a special duty to increase awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse.”

The press release says Penn State’s policies and programs involving minors, child abuse and mandated reporter training have been strengthened, ensuring a process for prompt reporting of abuse and sexual misconduct. The school has hired a new, full-time Clery Compliance Coordinator and is providing Clery Act training for employees. It has established a position of, and is commencing a national search for, a director of University Compliance.

The school acknowledged that it failed to create an environment of accountability and transparency and did not have optimal reporting procedures or committee structures. Beginning in March 2011 and continuing until the publication of the Grand Jury presentment in November 2011, Penn State admitted the board failed to make proper inquiry of its former president and others regarding the Sandusky matter. As a result, the board was unprepared to deal with the events that occurred in November 2011.

“The Board has begun taking a more active oversight role and has implemented specific oversight committees, focused on Risk, Audit, Legal, Compliance, Academic Excellence, Governance and Human Resources,” claims the school. “Furthermore, the Board is committed to greater transparency and communications with the entire University community.”

The university said it will carefully review and consider each of the report’s recommendations. Tomorrow at its regularly scheduled meeting, the board of trustees will consider a series of immediate next steps. President Rodney Erickson has appointed three members of his senior leadership team to coordinate and implement operational changes suggested by the Freeh Report.

Further information can be found at http://www.progress.psu.edu.

Read the original press release.

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Child Sex Abuse, Clery Act, Incident Reporting

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