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Trustees’ Report On Freeh Report Flaws Leaked

A report commissioned by seven Penn State trustees was published today by WJAC, despite being deemed confidential by the university and the full Board of Trustees. The report, “On The Freeh Report’s Flawed Methodology and Conclusions,” was presented to the full Board in a special meeting in June 2018, just before alumni trustees Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie ended their terms. Full membership chose not to make the report public at that time.

The Freeh Report is the result of an independent eight-month investigation commissioned by the Board of Trustees with heavily disputed credibility. Its findings zeroed in on the “culture of reverence for the football program” as the reason behind the supposed coverup of child sexual abuse. The report implicated former President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, VP for Finance & Business Gary Schultz, and Joe Paterno for having known about Sandusky’s crimes. The NCAA used the Freeh Report’s findings when levying sanctions against Penn State.

Penn State publicly released the Freeh Report in July 2012 after Sandusky was convicted on more than 40 counts of child sexual abuse, but it took the alumni trustee-led lawsuit for trustees to gain access to the material included in this report. A court in November 2015 ordered the university to allow trustees to review the source materials that were involved in the creation of the Freeh report. However, the order restricted trustees from publicly discussing privileged or confidential materials, which is why releasing the report should have required full board approval.

A court ruled in March 2017 that the university must reimburse the trustees for their legal fees incurred through the lawsuit because of the indemnification provisions in the bylaws. The Board of Trustees approved a bylaw change in November 2017 that eliminated that reimbursement provision for trustees who sue the university, despite encouragement from Pennsylvania’s auditor general to reject the change. The language maintains reimbursement for trustees who are sued as part of their duties, but eliminates reimbursement for trustees who themselves sue the university.

The seven current and former trustee signatories to the report are Ted Brown, Barb Doran, Bob Jubelirer, Anthony Lubrano, Ryan McCombie, Bill Oldsey, and Alice Pope. They used their access to this source information to develop the report that was published by WJAC, disputing the Freeh Report’s findings and calling the Board’s previous “tacit acceptance” of the Freeh Report “a fiduciary breach.”

Lubrano and McCombie are no longer on the Board after opting not to seek re-election in 2018. Brown, Doran, and Oldsey are all up for re-election this year.

The report lays out its findings in a pretty straightforward manner:

  • There’s no support for the Freeh Report’s conclusion that Paterno, Spanier, Curley, or Schultz knew of Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children.
  • There’s no support for the Freeh Report’s conclusion that Penn State’s culture was responsible for allowing Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children.
  • The independence of the Freeh Report was compromised by collaboration with the NCAA, then-Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and the state attorney general, and members of the Board of Trustees.
  • The NCAA, Corbett, and the Board of Trustees influenced the Freeh Report with conflicts of interests.
  • The Freeh Report used “unreliable methods for conducting and analyzing interviews” upon which it based its conclusions.

The report from the small group of trustees rejects the Freeh Report, saying Freeh “did not fulfill his obligation to conduct an independent and comprehensive investigation.”

After Lubrano’s term ended in July, he took matters into his own hands to encourage the university to allow the report to be released to the public, commissioning a plan to fly over the tailgate lots before a home football game in October with a banner that read, “Pres. Barron: What are you hiding? Release the report.”

When reached by phone Monday night, former trustee Lubrano said he was unaware that the report had been published and was not sure what he would be allowed to comment due to the court order that kept the information confidential.

The university provided the following statement, signed by Board of Trustees chair Mark Dambly and Penn State President Eric Barron:

The public disclosure of this unauthorized report in apparent violation of court-ordered confidentiality is reprehensible. We wish to make clear the report does not represent the position or opinions of the Penn State Board of Trustees or the University in any way. It is the expression of the personal opinions of the authors. It is also important to understand the University obtained a confidentiality order for the Freeh materials from a court in order to protect and promote a culture that asks employees to tell the truth and to speak up and report wrongdoing when they see it, without fear of retaliation. Finding the truth is dependent on such a commitment of confidentiality. This leak undermines these values and discourages a culture of reporting at Penn State. Furthermore, it is unfair to the men and women who provided information to Judge Freeh and his team, with an understanding that what they said to the interviewer would be maintained in confidence to the extent possible.

The five current Penn State trustees who were involved in the report (Brown, Doran Jubelirer, Oldsey, and Pope) responded with the following:

We are offended by the implication that we are anything but conscientious stewards of the University who have honored our confidentiality obligations. The fact is the Board’s tacit acceptance of the Freeh Report led to profound reputational damage, along with over $250 million in costs so far to Penn State. It is perplexing that the University clings to the conclusions of a report that has been criticized by so many, including Penn State President Eric Barron. We fervently believe that the best way forward is for the Board and the University to openly and thoughtfully consider the comprehensive and well-researched findings from our review so that we can finally come to an honest conclusion.

You can see the full report, obtained and published by WJAC, below:

Report to the Board of Trus… by on Scribd

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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