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Trustees’ Report Says Freeh Investigators Ignored Instruction From FBI Expert

Since the release of the Freeh Report in 2012, several Penn State trustees have been fighting to release more information and gain access to source material used in the investigation and development of the report, which pointed to the “culture of reverence for the football program” as the reason behind the alleged coverup of Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse.

After a lawsuit against the university allowed these individuals access in 2015, seven alumni trustees began to work on a report refuting the findings of Louis Freeh and his investigation team. This report, though confidential, was leaked Monday night and published in full by WJAC. The trustees’ report included additional detail on what Freeh investigators supposedly learned from Ken Lanning, a retired FBI special agent and respected expert on child sex abuse.

Jim Clemente, a retired FBI supervisory special agent/profiler, tweeted in December 2017 that Freeh had approached both he and Lanning, but neither were able to commit a minimum of six months to the investigation.

Instead, Lanning was hired for a one-day seminar with the Freeh investigative team, according to Clemente and the trustees’ report.

Lanning met with the Freeh investigative team for a training on December 13, 2011, according to the trustees’ report. It appears that a copy of his training materials appear in the appendix of the full report, but only the text of the report is available at this time (not this or any other appendices).

The trustees’ report summarizes the information included in the instruction as follows:

1. Lanning provided information consistent with the interpretation that Jerry Sandusky was a “pillar of the community” offender whose stature in the community blinded people to the possibility that he could be harming children; this idea was not included in the Freeh report.

2. Lanning provided information indicating that youth-serving organizations — along with law enforcement, child protective services, and society and the media — are commonly unaware of the ways to recognize acquaintance offenders; the possibility that Penn State officials may have unintentionally failed to understand Sandusky’s actions as abusive is not included in the Freeh Report.

3. Lanning provided information to guide youth-serving organizations in obtaining qualified consultation when creating policies to protect children — emphasizing the need for consultants to be knowledgeable about acquaintance victimization; this was not included in the Freeh Report recommendations.

4. Lanning provided guidelines for conducting investigations of child sex abuse, and emphasized the importance of evaluating information and carefully corroborating reports before making conclusions; the Freeh Report disregards information contrary to the conclusions rather than qualifying the conclusions.

5. Lanning cautioned that media reports on child sex victimization cases are often inaccurate and motivated by competing interests (getting ratings, filling time); the Freeh Group read media reports uncritically and allowed themselves to be influenced by sensationalistic accounts based on questionable findings.

Before consulting on the Freeh investigation, Lanning spoke to reporters for outlets like the Washington Post and the Patriot-News as an expert on child sexual abuse, explaining the phenomenon of the “acquaintance molester.”

“The nicer you are, the longer you get away with the crime,” Lanning told ABC News. “It’s important in how they work. They spend more and more time with the kids then gradually start to convince themselves that they are helping them.”

Both Clemente and the trustees’ report concluded that the Freeh Report ignored everything Lanning presented to investigators. The report later condemns the Freeh Report for apparently failing to consider the possibility that Jerry Sandusky had effectively duped the entire Penn State community, even after hearing Lanning’s instruction on the profile of a “pillar of the community” offender.

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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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