University Files Memorandum Rejecting Trustees’ Petition For Freeh Materials
In an 80-page memorandum filed today, Penn State indicated it will continue to protect the identities of hundreds of university employees interviewed during the Freeh investigation. The university reaffirmed its commitment to confidentiality in response to a group of alumni-elected trustees petition to review source materials.
Seven alumni-elected trustees — Ted Brown, Barbara Doran, Robert Jubelirer, Anthony Lubrano, Ryan McCombie, William Oldsey, and Alice Pope — are adamant on obtaining sealed documents used in the Freeh Report. They requested all Freeh Report-related documents on April 15 in a formal request to board chairman Keith Masser and president Eric Barron, but received a rejection letter from university counsel on April 17. They followed up by filing a petition in the Centre County court at the end of April in an effort to compel the university to provide the requested documents, including the names of those interviewed.
“Penn State is legitimately concerned that interviewees may become public targets, and its work to encourage the reporting of wrongdoing would be jeopardized,” university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in a press release. The release went on to say the request is a breach of duty, harmful to the university, and not related to the trustees’ fiduciary duties.
In the memorandum, it points out the fact the board has previously deliberated and determined it is not in the university’s best interest to re-examine the Freeh Report at this time. Therefore, if the petitioners were to obtain access to these records, it would be for their own agenda — not in order to fulfill their responsibilities as trustees. The full memorandum is attached below.
The release notes numerous prior violations of confidentiality by certain alumni-elected trustees as evidence for potential misuse, and as a result the university is not obligated to hand over the requested confidential documents. The university is prepared to provide examples of those violations to the court under seal or in private.
“The university makes the point that such access will devastate the university’s efforts to create a culture where the reporting of wrongdoing is encouraged and whistleblowers feel protected against retaliation,” Powers said in the release.
President Barron announced in November he is conducting an official presidential review of the raw materials that went into the Freeh Report.