Freeh Report Shows Institutional Failure to Implement Clery Act

The release of Thursday morning’s Freeh report further exposed the pathetic institutional failings of Penn State University in regards to the actions of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Chapter 8 of the 267 page report offers in full detail Penn State’s failure to implement and properly train their staff on the inner workings of the Clery Act, a federal statute that requires Universities to collect crime statistics for incidents that occur on University property.

According to the report, The Clery Act, which passed in 1990 and became effective in 1991, requires Universities to make timely warnings of certain designated crimes—including sexual offenses—that pose a threat to the community and prepare an annual safety report and distribute it to the campus community. The act also requires “Campus Security Authorities (CSA’s) to report crimes to police” (p. 110).

The Clery Act classifies four categories for a CSA, one of which is “an official of an institution who has significant responsibility for students and campus activities” (p. 113). The Department of Education defined this group of CSA’s to include “director of athletics” and “a team coach,” among others.

Based on the qualification of a CSA in the Clery Act, the report concludes that “[Joe] Paterno, [Tim] Curley, and [Mike] McQueary were obligated to report the 2001 Sandusky incident to the University Police Department for inclusion in Clery Act statistics” and “did not meet their Clery Act responsibilities by reporting, or ensuring that someone reported, this incident to University Police Department” (p. 118).

McQueary, Paterno, and Curley reporting the incident to Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier was deemed not sufficient by Freeh and his investigators.

“McQueary, Paterno and Curley did report incident to Schultz who was ultimately in charge of the University Police Department. However, Schultz was not a law enforcement officer and was not the person designated to receive Clery Crime reports or collect Clery Crime statistics for the University,” the report read (p. 118).

The report also added: “Arguably, as the most senior leaders of the University, Schultz and Spanier should have ensured compliance with the Clery Act regarding this incident” (p. 118).

The report highlighted the failings of the University to implement the Clery Act altogether, dating back to 1991.

From 1991 to 2007 Clery Act compliance was entrusted to the University Police Department’s Crime Prevention Officer (CPO). The CPO was not provided with any formal training before taking over the position and did not recall receiving any Clery Act training until 2007 (p. 115). The CPO, who was not named, was supervised by others in the University Police Department, including Chief Thomas Harmon.

To the CPO’s knowledge, supervisors were unaware of the requirements of the Clery Act, including “the concept of CSA’s or the obligation to collect crime data from student organizations, coaches, and others who have regular contact with students.”  According to the CPO, he told one of his supervisors in 2007 that there was a need for additional personnel to assist with Clery Act and that “we could get hurt really bad here.” His supervisor responded by saying “we don’t really have the money” (p. 115).

In 2007, the Director of University Police Department, Stephen Shelow, transferred the Clery Act compliance responsibility from the CPO to a “departmental sergeant.” Shelow also set up some Clery Act training programs. The departmental sergeant “was only able to devote minimal time to Clery Act responsibilities.” Shelow believed that compliance with the Clery Act had not been handled well in the past (p.115).

Shelow also suggested to Senior Vice President of Finance and Business (Gary Schultz) that the University appoint a “compliance coordinator” to assist with Clery Act. Shelow was told by Schultz that there was need for the position but the University had other priorities that needed attention first (p. 116).

Additionally, Shelow directed University police department employees to attend a Clery Act training program and other training sessions. Shelow does not believe “anyone at the University understood, before that conference, that the Clery Act requires information be gathered from outside the University Police Department” (p. 115).

Training sessions took place for just one or two years were described as “sporadic” and “not well attended” (p. 116). Despite these training efforts (for groups both at University Park and some Commonwealth campuses), “awareness and interest in Clery Act compliance throughout the University remained significantly lacking” (p.110).

The University surmised a draft of a Clery Act policy in April 2009. As of November 2011, the policy was “still in draft form and had not been implemented” (p. 116).

When interviewed by Freeh’s Special Investigative Counsel, former University President Graham Spanier said he was unaware that the Clery Act policy was not implemented and remained in draft form and that he never briefed the Board of Trustees on Clery Act compliance. He also claimed to be unaware that the University was not in compliance with the Clery Act (p. 116).

In 2009, University administrators identified compliance with laws and regulations as one of the top 10 risks to the University. Despite this, Clery Act compliance had never been audited by the University’s internal auditors or received attention from any other University department, including Office of General Counsel (p. 110).

This is just one of the many failings of Penn State indicted in the report by Freeh, and certainly one of the most negligible. Check back throughout the day for more updates from the report.

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About the Author

Sam Cooper

Sam is a senior originally from Newtown, PA who majors in print journalism and is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. His athletic peak was age 11 so he decided to grow a beard and write about sports instead.

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