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Editorial: Penn State failed in its duties

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opinion Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
(320) 235-6769 customer support
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

The extensive internal review of the child sex abuse case at Penn State placed responsibility on the institution's top leaders and football coach for failure to control and sufficiently report.

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The report, which was released Thursday, was quite complete and to the point. This report was conducted by Louis Freeh, former FBI director and federal judge.

Freeh said Thursday the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Jerry Sandusky victimized.

The Freeh report said that the overriding concern among the university's leaders was the "avoidance of the consequences of bad publicity" which was the primary factor in the "failure to protect child victims."

The report also cited the following significant points:

n "A striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims by the most senior leaders of the university."

n "A failure by the Board (of Trustees) to exercise its oversight functions in 1998 and 2001 by not having regular reporting procedures or committee structures in place to ensure disclosure to the Board of major risks to the University."

n "A failure by the Board to make reasonable inquiry in 2011 by not demanding details (from its leaders) and General Counsel about the nature and direction of the grand jury investigations and the University's response."

n "A President who discouraged discussion and dissent."

n "A lack of awareness of child abuse issues ... and whistleblower policies and protections."

The simple fact is that many individuals, including legendary coach Joe Paterno, failed in the basic responsibility of Penn State to protect the young people, especially the children, coming onto their campus.

That fact that Sandusky was likely emboldened by the university's inaction over the 14-year period likely led to even more victims.

Sandusky has been convicted and is now serving his sentences. The university's former leaders have been removed.

The challenge for Penn State now is to implement appropriate policy and guidelines to make sure that this never happens again.

The extensive internal review of the child sex abuse case at Penn State placed responsibility on the institution's top leaders and football coach for failure to control and sufficiently report.

The report, which was released Thursday, was quite complete and to the point. This report was conducted by Louis Freeh, former FBI director and federal judge.

Freeh said Thursday the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Jerry Sandusky victimized.

The Freeh report said that the overriding concern among the university's leaders was the "avoidance of the consequences of bad publicity" which was the primary factor in the "failure to protect child victims."

The report also cited the following significant points:

- "A striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims by the most senior leaders of the university."

- "A failure by the Board (of Trustees) to exercise its oversight functions in 1998 and 2001 by not having regular reporting procedures or committee structures in place to ensure disclosure to the Board of major risks to the University."

- "A failure by the Board to make reasonable inquiry in 2011 by not demanding details (from its leaders) and General Counsel about the nature and direction of the grand jury investigations and the University's response."

- "A President who discouraged discussion and dissent."

- "A lack of awareness of child abuse issues ... and whistleblower policies and protections."

The simple fact is that many individuals, including legendary coach Joe Paterno, failed in the basic responsibility of Penn State to protect the young people, especially the children, coming onto their campus.

That fact that Sandusky was likely emboldened by the university's inaction over the 14-year period likely led to even more victims.

Sandusky has been convicted and is now serving his sentences. The university's former leaders have been removed.

The challenge for Penn State now is to implement appropriate policy and guidelines to make sure that this never happens again.

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