STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron said he’s not a fan of the Freeh Report on the Sandusky scandal. 6 News has obtained a newly released court deposition given by one of the top Freeh investigators, and it confirms the NCAA was heavily involved. Yes, the Penn State president thinks the Freeh Group painted an unrealistic picture of the campus culture at Penn State. His testimony is from Omar McNeil, one of the top administrators at Louis Freeh’s firm, and he oversaw much of the Freeh investigation at Penn State after the Freeh Group was hired to look into the university’s response to the Sandusky scandal. His testimony was given in the legal case that’s now been dropped – state Sen. Jake Corman against the NCAA. McNeil confirmed just days after Jerry Sandusky was charged on Nov. 11, the Freeh Group was called, and along with them came the NCAA and the Big 10 who sat in on various meetings. The NCAA even gave the Freeh Group questions they wanted asked, plus a list of key terms or words they proposed should be in the investigator’s questions.
A Penn State trustee who played a pivotal role in hiring Louis Freeh stands by his decision, but is expressing some reservations about Freeh’s conclusions.
Kenneth Frazier headed the Penn State Board of Trustees task force that appointed the former FBI director to determine what personal or institutional failures enabled the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal to occur.
Released in July 2012, the Freeh report concluded that several top Penn State administrators hid knowledge of the scandal from the public. The report also condemns what Freeh describes as a football-centric culture that valued an athletics program over the welfare of children.
“I have not regretted the decision to retain Judge Freeh. There have been moments of doubt with respect to how the entire process was carried out,” Frazier said during a Dec. 2014 deposition hearing for the now-settled lawsuit between two Pennsylvania elected officials and the NCAA.
How the board of trustees learned of Freeh’s conclusions is one of those moments of doubt. Frazier said the board originally planned to read the report before it was made public so the trustees could fully understand its contents before making public comment. Instead, the trustees opted to view the report only after it was made available to the general public.
The alumni-elected members of the Penn State Board of Trustees are getting impatient while waiting to review the Freeh report.
In a new letter sent to board chairman Keith Masser on Tuesday, trustees Anthony Lubrano and Al Lord renew their fight to see the source documents from former FBI director Louis Freeh’s investigation into the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Though Masser granted the alumni-elects access to the documents in a letter on Dec. 1, Lubrano and Lord now write that he hasn’t taken the necessary next steps to keep the process moving.
“A month has elapsed since you agreed to provide this access, yet you have not sent the draft confidentiality agreement you referenced in your letter,” the alumni-elects write in Tuesday’s letter. “We are anxious to review documents, please immediately provide the agreement.”
One of the victims whose testimony convicted Jerry Sandusky of child sex crimes has received access to a deluge of documents in his civil suit.
John Doe D, 21, was known during the criminal trial as Victim 9. He is suing Penn State and the retired assistant coach in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for the crimes that landed Sandusky in Greene state prison for a minimum of 30 years.
On Jan. 9, Judge Mark Bernstein ordered that the university had until Jan. 23 to produce “all documents in the ‘Freeh database’ ” — a database of roughly 3.5 million electronic records collected by Freeh, Sullivan and Sporkin LLP in its role as special investigative counsel to the Penn State board of trustees.
BY MARK SCOLFORO
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State’s president on Wednesday dismissed the university-commissioned review of how top administrators handled child molestation complaints about former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as “not useful to make decisions.”
Eric Barron told The Associated Press that the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh took a prosecutorial approach and created an “absurd” and “unwarranted” picture of students, faculty and others associated with the university.
“I have to say, I’m not a fan of the report,” Barron said during a half-hour interview in his office in Old Main, the school’s administrative headquarters. “There’s no doubt in my mind, Freeh steered everything as if he were a prosecutor trying to convince a court to take the case.”
The Freeh team’s report, he said, “very clearly paints a picture about every student, every faculty member, every staff member and every alum. And it’s absurd. It’s unwarranted. So from my viewpoint, the Freeh report is not useful to make decisions.”
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of shoes that have to drop. You could argue that public opinion has found us guilty before the criminal trials,” Barron said. “There’s no doubt in my mind what was completely and totally wrong was the notion that this entire alumni base, our students, our faculty, our staff, got the blame for what occurred.”
Student applications to Penn State have continued to rise, external funding of research is strong and donations have poured in, but the impact of the Sandusky scandal remains acute, Barron said.
“The price that’s being paid is the fact that it’s really torn our alumni base apart,” he said. “They’re constantly reading about it, they’re constantly talking about who is standing up for the university, how they’re standing up for the university, who did something wrong.”
Barron said conflict among the trustees that pits those elected by alumni against the others comes down to different ideas about “a path forward.”
“Of course I’m concerned about antagonism,” he said. “And I’m concerned particularly because if you go to the foundations of all those individuals, they all love Penn State, they’re all giving an enormous amount of time to Penn State, and for no other reason than they believe in the institution.”
Penn State is developing a proposal to the Big Ten Conference to revise an athletics integrity agreement that currently applies to the university. Barron said a discussion about returning Penn State’s share of the conference’s bowl revenues from recent years “will be a face-to-face discussion.”
Freeh is also hired to conduct investigations, like the controversial report he produced about Penn State’s football program. Nasser Kazeminy, a Minnesota businessman who in 2008 was accused of bribing former Senator Norm Coleman, also hired Freeh to conduct a “thorough investigation” of the allegations against him in the hopes of clearing his name.
In 2011, Freeh issued a public statement saying that his investigation had “completely vindicated” both Kazeminy and Coleman. Sure, Kazeminy had bought Coleman $100,000 worth of presents, but, Freeh said at a press conference, “There was no quid pro quo in the gifts. There was no wrongdoing.” Freeh also met with the Justice Department – which was investigating the bribery charges but declined to bring a case—on Kazeminy’s behalf.
Oh yeah, about Freeh’s Palm Beach penthouse. As I discovered through Florida property records, Freeh’s wife co-owns it with Kazeminy, which kind of makes you wonder about just how thorough and impartial his investigation was. The quit claim deed giving Freeh’s wife one-half ownership of the penthouse was signed nine days after Freeh’s vindication of Kazeminy.
Freeh declined to comment for this story.
Louis Freeh, the former FBI director whose wife was deeded half of a $3 million beachside penthouse by a businessman–just nine days after Freeh cleared that same businessman of wrongdoing–is onto a new job: Helping exonerate a billionaire businessman accused of bribing an African government.
As I reported here the other day, Freeh has made piles of money since leaving government service by hiring himself out to conduct allegedly independent corporate and political investigations. These investigations are clearly a growth business, because now Freeh’s firm is helping coordinate the defense of an Israeli billionaire who is being investigated on three continents in regard to bribes he allegedly paid to win a mining stake in one of the world’s poorest countries.