Penn State trustee defends Freeh report, rips critics

Posted: March 15, 2013

Pennsylvania State University board of trustee member Kenneth Frazier at a meeting Thursday afternoon unleashed a passionate defense of the trustee-commissioned investigative report that found senior administrators had covered up child sex abuse allegations.

Furthermore, Frazier said, during a fiery exchange with an alumni candidate for the board, he didn't care whether those Penn State administrators were found guilty at the forthcoming trial or not. Evidence unearthed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his team proved their culpability, he said.

Penn State, he said, has to continue to take responsibility for the child sex abuse that occurred on its campus and off at the hands of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

"You can try all you want to get us to focus elsewhere," said Frazier, who chaired the special investigations task force that was the liaison to Freeh. His remarks came at a committee meeting of the university's board of trustees in Hershey.

"I find it fascinating that I've gotten thousands of e-mails with conspiracy theories and yet no one seems to have read the very first document in chronological order that Freeh produced."

The Freeh report uncovered e-mails and notes that investigators say show that former President Graham B. Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, administrator Gary Schultz and the late football coach Joe Paterno conspired to cover up abuse allegations against Sandusky. Spanier, Curley and Schultz have all been indicted on conspiracy and other charges and await trial. Paterno was never charged.

"No one seems to be able to look at the black and white facts," said Frazier, a lawyer and president and CEO of Merck & Co. ". . . You're not going to distract me or anybody else from the facts that occurred here. And they are abundantly clear that people on this campus did not take action to protect children."

William Cluck, a lawyer and candidate for the board who was in the verbal sparring match with Frazier, said the forthcoming trial should shed more light on the situation.

Frazier said he didn't care what the outcome of the trial is because the evidence is clear.

"We are not subject to the criminal beyond a reasonable doubt standard, and you're a lawyer so you can stop pretending that you think we are," Frazier told Cluck. "We can take employment actions. We can take corrective actions without any need to resort to due process reasonable doubt standards. I don't care if they are acquitted."

". . .If you care about that, then you are one of the few people in this country . . . who actually believes the O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict was correct. And you know you didn't.

"Those documents say what they say and no amount of hand waving will ever change what they say."

Cluck told the rest of the committee that he was "shocked" they said nothing during Frazier's presentation and remarks, which he viewed as being an attack on Paterno.

"This gentleman has a valid point of view," Cluck said. "I respect his opinion. Is that the opinion of the board?"

The Freeh report is expected to come up again at Friday's trustees meeting where 30 lettermen plan to show up on behalf of Paterno.

In his remarks, Frazier said the Freeh report delivered what it promised and has set the university on a course to prevent such a scandal from occurring again. Officials noted that 83 of the 119 recommendations put forth by Freeh have been implemented in the wake of the scandal.

But the statements did little to quiet those in the audience.

Penn State alumna Alice Pope, a university psychology professor in New York City, said she has many questions.

"I'm disappointed," she said after the meeting. "I really was expecting there would be some legitimate discussion of the merits of the Freeh report. . . . There have been a lot of fair criticisms of the Freeh report and I think the board has an obligation to really consider those very carefully."


Contact Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693 or ssnyder@phillynews.com

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