Penn State Trustees to Investigate Sex Crime Case, Really!?

I am not sure if the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is just asleep at the switch or if it is incompetent when it comes to allowing  an institution, in this case, The Pennsylvania State University, to investigate itself.  The Trustees at Penn State are launching an inquiry into the allegations of  sex crimes committed by former Football Defensive Coach,  Jerry Sandusky.

In a statement released yesterday, the Board announced that it would appoint a committee to “undertake a full and complete investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to the grand jury report” at its scheduled meeting on Friday, 11 November.  They also promised swift action.

Why is it that we allow institutions to investigate themselves?  If there is an ongoing criminal investigation, the University needs to cooperate with professional investigators to allow the truth to be discovered.  With all due respect, the Board of Trustees has a vested interest in mitigating the damage to the University’s reputation as well as the reputation of Joe Paterno and the football program in Happy Valley.  It is not in their best interest to allow the full story to come out and negatively impact donations from alumni and patrons of the University. 

There is the additional question of whether the University violated the Clery Act which requires colleges and universities to disclose certain timely and annual information about campus crime and security policies. All public and private institutions of postsecondary education participating in federal student aid programs are subject to it. Under the provisions of the act, Institutions must make timely warnings to the campus community about crimes that pose an ongoing threat to students and employees.  Penn State has obviously failed in this obligation. (More information on the Clery Act is available at the Security on Campus, Inc website.)

 The U.S. Department of Education is charged with responsibility to investigate and enforce the law.  The Department of Education should be investigating this case, not the Penn State Board of Trustees. 

Given the statement of the President of Penn State, Graham Spanier,in which he offered his unequivocal support for his Athletic Director, Tim Curley, and Vice President of Finance and Business, Glenn Schultz,  it is clear that any University run investigation will be designed to avoid further scandal and mitigate damage. It is time for an outside agency with an experienced investigative team to step in and do a complete and unbiased investigation.

The Department of Education and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania  need to step up and run any investigation to determine the full extent of any cover up of crimes committed by Penn State employees.  The University must also clean house of all those you showed bad judgement or aided in the coverup of crimes committed against minors.  If that means that Joe Paterno and University President, Graham Spanier need to go, so be it.

Finally, lets not forget the victims in this case.   A ninth victim came forward yesterday, there are likely to be more.  Mr. Sandusky seems to have been a prolific predator.

This blog fully supports efforts to get Pennsylvania House Bills 832 and 878  brought to the floor of  the General Assembly for a fair vote.  It also supports the organizations that are working hard to see those bills passed and to insure that victims of sexual crimes, children and vulnerable adults, have an avenue to seek justice from the predator that targeted them and the individuals or institutions that protected those predators from being brought to justice.  Jutice4PAKids and FACSA are leading those efforts in Pennsylvania.

UPDATE:  Coach Joe Paterno has announced that he will retire at the end of the season.  He also advised the Board of Trustees not to concern themselves with his status as they investigate.

2 thoughts on “Penn State Trustees to Investigate Sex Crime Case, Really!?”

  1. The Department of Education has NO jurisdiction in matters related to criminal activity. It is up to the University, the state and local police and the state’s Attorney General to handle the matter effectively. The University is only looking at itself from a procredural perspective to see where, and IF, any break downs occured in reporting this abuse. Lastly, please realize (and be knowledgeable) that in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there is a law that confers onto the police forces of colleges and universities the EXACT same force of law of the police force of the municipality within which it is located. Said another way, they ARE real police with the exact same investigative and prosecutorial power as the State College police. Reporting to University police IS reporting to the Police.

    1. After rereading my post I am comfortable with pointing out that I never stated or implied that campus police were not a legitimate law enforcement agency. I am aware (and knowledgeable) that in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that there are colleges and universities with police forces that are empowered with full law enforcement powers. I am also aware that, in this case, it was the Pennsylvania State Police who exercised jurisdiction, not the Pennsylvania State University Police. I would also point out that the Department of Education is the primary adviser to the Governor on matters pertaining to education. I don’t think I made a big leap here. I would suspect that a State run investigation is probably a good way to go on this.

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