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Wednesday
Aug222012

Penn State Freeh Report Assailed as 'Blundering' by School's Ex-President

Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The legal team for the ousted president of Penn State University today assailed the "blundering" independent investigation that accused him of covering up the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal.

Graham Spanier, who served as the school's president for 16 years, has not been charged with any crime, but an independent investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh accused Spanier of failing to alert authorities that Sandusky sexually assaulted a boy in a locker-room shower.

Spanier has insisted that he was never made aware of the allegations that Sandusky had sexually molested a boy.

Two other school officials have been charged with perjury and failure to report abuse, and authorities have indicated the investigation is continuing, leaving a legal cloud over Spanier.

The scandal ended Spanier's tenure as the school's president and the Freeh Report damaged his reputation by faulting Spanier for failing to stop a "child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

[FOR AN EXCLUSIVE ABC NEWS INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM SPANIER, TUNE IN TO NIGHTLINE TONIGHT AT 11:35 P.M. EDT.]

Tim Lewis, a former federal prosecutor and ex-federal judge who reviewed the Freeh report's findings on Spanier's behalf, called the investigation's findings a "myth" and a "blundering and indefensible indictment" that would never hold up in court.

Lewis said the report was filled with "glaring oversights, indefensible exclusions... [and leapt] to conclusions with no basis except the biased opinion of the author."

"The irony is that while this report attempts to portray Dr. Spanier as having engaged in a conspiracy to conceal information, a closer inspection confirms that if anyone is guilty of concealment it isn't Dr. Spanier; it is Judge Freeh," Lewis said.

Lewis acknowledged that it was unusual for one former federal judge to criticize another former federal judge and added, "It pains me to say this," referring to scathing criticism of Freeh's report.

Freeh did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment.

Lewis insisted that had Spanier, a victim of child abuse himself and an expert family therapist, been appraised of Sandusky's crimes he would have reported them.

Instead Penn State officials told Spanier that Sandusky had only engaged in "horseplay" with a boy in the school's showers in 2001. The boy would later be identified as Victim 2, one of 10 victims police would later learn Sandusky had molested.

In July, Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of abuse against 10 boys.

"'Horseplay' was referred to over and over again, but never with any sexual connotation or suggestion of abuse," Lewis said.

Those comments echo Spanier's previous denouncements of the Freeh report.

"Had I known then what we now know about Jerry Sandusky, I would have strongly and immediately intervened," Spanier wrote in a July 23 letter to the Penn State board of trustees. "Never would I stand by for a moment to allow a child predator to hurt children."

Two of Spanier's former colleagues, Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz, face trial for perjury and failure to report abuse.

The charges stem from allegations that Curley, Schultz and Spanier never told authorities about the 2001 shower incident.

After the scandal broke, Spanier, who was president of the university from 1995 to 2011, was demoted to a professorship.

According to documents -- the Freeh report and testimony at Sandusky's trial -- Spanier learned in February 2001 that assistant coach Mike McQueary witnessed an incident between Sandusky and the boy later identified as Victim 2. During the trial, McQueary suggested that the incident was a rape of the boy.

Spanier, however, insists that he was never told the seriousness of the attack on Victim 2.

But the Freeh Report concluded that Spanier and his colleagues understood the gravity of the allegations against Sandusky, but chose to cover them up.

The Freeh allegations, Spanier claims, hangs on a tortuous game of telephone tag in which the story about the assault in the showers changed over time. By the time Spanier learned of the incident, it was described as "horseplay," he says.

McQueary first confided in his father and a family friend and physician Dr. Jonathon Dranov about what he saw. He then went to head coach Joe Paterno and told Paterno he witnessed activity of a "sexual nature."

Spanier contends that McQueary did not initially indicate a serious sexual assault had taken place. Had he done so, Dranov, as a family physician, would have been obligated to inform the police, Spanier claims.

"Judge Freeh does not mention this in his report. Nor does he mention that the jury acquitted Sandusky of this count. Most important, he doesn't mention or explain why he never even bothered to interview Dr. Dranov, even though he knew what he would have said. Yet he has the audacity to accuse Dr. Spanier of concealing important information," Lewis said.

Lewis also introduced a letter from Gary Gray, a former football player who met with Paterno in the days after losing his job and being diagnosed with cancer. Gray says Paterno told him a similar story in McQueary described what he witnessed in the showers as "horseplay."

Troubling, however, is a series of emails and conversations between Spanier, Curley and Schultz in 2001.

According to notes from a meeting dated Feb. 25, the three men agreed that they would ban Sandusky from bringing children on campus, inform the Second Mile children's charity which Sandusky founded, and alert the Department of Welfare.

However, between Feb. 27 and 28 after "talking it over with [head football coach] Joe [Paterno]," Curley emailed the men proposing they do not inform the authorities and instead try to get Sandusky "professional help," the Freeh report states.

Spanier agreed to that plan. However, he noted that by not bringing the accusations to police they would be "vulnerable for not having reported it."

When asked about this email today, Spanier's lawyer Jack Reilly, said only Spanier could explain them in context.

The sex abuse scandal rocked Penn State and its celebrated football program, leading to the dismissal of Paterno, Schultz and Curley and a demotion for Spanier.

Paterno died soon after losing his job. Based on the Freeh Report's findings, the NCAA stripped the school's football programs of its wins under Paterno.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Penn State May Loan Athletic Department Money to Pay Off NCAA Fines

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Penn State University is considering a loan to its athletic department in an effort to pay the $60 million fine imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its role in ignoring past sexual abuse of young boys, according to Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

“And in all likelihood the university will have to extend the athletic department a long-term loan that they can pay back as they get on their feet, and as we adjust their budget going forward in the football program,” Erickson said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

He also said that the university would dip into the athletic department’s reserve fund along with a long term loan from the school itself.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, which has sent shockwaves through the State College, Pa., community over the past eight months, the NCAA hit the university with the unprecedented $60 million fine and capped scholarships for players.

The massive fine and harsh sanctions come in the aftermath of a damning report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which harshly criticized the university and longtime football Coach Joe Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of Sandusky, his former assistant coach.

The university president promised the fines will be paid from athletic reserve funds.  Penn State makes $60 million on football alone every season.  The fines will not affect the education of the other 80,000 non-football playing students, Erickson said.

In addition to the fines, the university will likely face multiple lawsuits from abuse victims.  Erickson said Penn State is properly insured for liability but is not looking for a long drawn-out fight in court.

“We hope to be able to settle as many of these cases as quickly as possible.  We don’t want to, if at all possible, drag victims through another round of court cases and litigation,” he said.

Penn State faces significant financial challenges in the years to come.  The university already has about $1 billion in debt and risks a downgrade to its creditworthiness, according to a report put out by Moody’s Analytic last year.

Unrelated to the university’s money problem, Erickson also issued an on-screen apology for the school for the first time.

“We’re deeply sorry and sad, regretful that this happened at our university.  We want to do the right thing.  We want to help them in their healing process,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

LISTEN: Jerry Sandusky's Voicemails for Victim No. 2

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The man who was seen being sexually assaulted in a Penn State shower by Jerry Sandusky in 2001 has come forward and identified himself to attorneys, who say that he plans to sue the university.

A man claiming to be Victim 2, whom assistant coach Mike McQueary saw being molested in the shower by Sandusky, is being represented by attorneys Justine Andronici and Andrew Shubin, according to a statement released by the attorneys today.

The man's name is not being released to the public, but his attorneys have posted on their website two voicemails that Sandusky allegedly left the man on his cell phone in 2011.

The attorneys confirm that the man is the same victim who McQueary saw one night in the Penn State locker room showers with Sandusky. McQueary, then a graduate assistant on the Penn State football coaching staff, said he saw Sandusky in a very sexual position, which he interpreted as anal rape in the locker rooms one Friday night around 9 p.m., and reported the incident the next day to head coach Joe Paterno.

The incident became a linchpin for the case against Sandusky, as McQueary was the only eyewitness to an alleged assault who was called to testify at Sandusky's trial. Prosecutors had not been able to identify Victim 2 or interview him for the trial.

Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting the boy, despite the inability of police to identify the victim.

According to the statement by Andronici and Shubin, the man approached them and confirmed that he had been abused for "many years both before and after the 2001 incident."

The attorneys said they will be filling a civil suit on the man's behalf against Penn State University "and others."

The voicemails released by the attorneys include a man's voice that they claim is Sandusky's, calling Victim 2 just weeks ahead of his arrest.

"I would be very firm and express my feelings, uh, upfront. Um. But you know, there is nothing really to hide so, if you want, give me a call. You can call me on my other cell phone or on this one, either one so. All right, take care. Love you. Uh. Hope you get this message. Thanks," the man said in one message, dated Sept. 12, 2011.

"Just calling to see you know whether you had any interest in going to the Penn State game this Saturday," the voice said in another message dated Sept. 14, 2011. "If you could get back to me and let me know, I would appreciate it and when you get this message, uh, give me a call and I hope to talk to you later. Thanks. I love you."

The lawyers said in their statement that they had collected overwhelming evidence that Sandusky molested the boy for many years and that he is, in fact, Victim 2.

"As these messages indicate, Sandusky was attempting to exert control over our client even as his arrest for child sexual abuse became imminent," the statement read.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse in June and is awaiting sentencing in a Pennsylvania jail.

The handling of McQueary's report to Paterno about the shower incident resulted in the dismissal of Paterno, university president Graham Spanier and two other college executives for not reporting it to police.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Thirty Penn State Football Players Staying Nittany Lions

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Even with the football program seemingly crashing around them, a group of 30 Penn State University players said on Wednesday that they're not going anywhere.

Earlier this week, the NCCA imposed stiff penalties against the program in response to officials covering up the crimes of convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky, once the late Joe Paterno's trusted defensive coordinator.

Knowing how the punishment might affect current players, the NCCA gave them the option to immediately transfer out of Penn State so they could play football for another school this fall.

However, fifth-year senior linebacker Michael Mauti issued a statement on behalf of himself and other players, saying they would remain at Penn State, using it "this as an opportunity to build our own legacy."

In a dramatic pronouncement of their loyalty to the university, Mauti said, "This program was not built by one man, and this program sure as hell is not going to get torn down by one man," a reference pehaps to Paterno and Sandusky.

He went on to say, "No sanction, no politician is ever going to take away what we’ve got here. None of that is ever going to tear us apart. Right now, all we can do, we can put our heads down and we’re just going to work."

On Tuesday, Matt McGloin, a fifth-year senior quarterback, declared, "Even though these penalties are extremely harsh, I am a Nittany Lion and will remain one."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

Penn State Sanctions: Outrage Grows Over Vacated Victories

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Outrage over the sanctions against Penn State's football program is high with some fans of the Nittany Lions football team, mostly stemming from the National Collegiate Athletic Association's decision to vacate 112 of the team's wins over the past 14 years.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, which has sent shockwaves through the State College, Pa., community over the past eight months, the NCAA hit the university with a $60 million fine and capped scholarships for players.  While the legacy of once-beloved former coach Joe Paterno has been tarnished after he was accused of participating in the sex abuse cover-up, the stripping of the team's wins stings the most for fans.

"People are thrown under the bus, institutions are thrown under the bus everyday for the bottom line.  This is no different," Penn State alum Eric Bernier told ABC News.

Every hard-fought victory earned since 1998 by the Nittany Lions, who were coached by Paterno for a total of 45 years, has now been removed -- just like the statue of Paterno on the university's campus.

"The wins … we didn't cheat in football, that's unnecessary," Penn State student Alex Gibson said Monday.

The massive fine and harsh sanctions come in the aftermath of a damning report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which harshly criticized the university and Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of Sandusky, Paterno's former assistant coach.  Students in State College are dismayed as they watch their once-proud university being humiliated again.

"It just keeps piling on and on," student Maddy Proy told ABC News.  "We are a huge family and this is just a huge blow to our family."

The university president promised the fines will be paid from athletic reserve funds.  Penn State makes $60 million on football alone every season.  The fines will not affect the education of the other 80,000 non-football playing students.

"We will not use any taxpayer dollars to fund that fine. Period," President Rodney A. Erickson said.

Perhaps paying the highest price and feeling most victimized are former players, who no longer have any victories in the record books -- all of them wiped out by the Sandusky scandal, which they presumably knew nothing about.

Michael Robinson played for the Nittany Lions from 2002-2005 and went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers.

"Jerry was a sick man," Robinson said.  "I just don't think that our program is defined by the actions of one sick individual."

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Speaking on Good Morning America Tuesday, Jeremy Schaap from ESPN, a sister network to ABC, said that the school may now lose some of its top football players.

"The immediate impact is that the NCAA is allowing student athletes to transfer without penalty," Schaap said.  "That means there might be a mass exodus … with no hope of playing at a bowl game, no hope to play in a championship, you would expect to see most of Penn State's top players to move out of there."

Schaap also says that he believes the NCAA is trying to send a message to the rest of the college athletic community that athletic programs cannot take precedence over the academic missions of universities.

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Monday
Jul232012

Penn State Takes Down Paterno Statue, Prepares for NCAA Sanctions

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- The statue of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was removed from outside the university’s football stadium on Sunday, just hours before the NCAA said it would announce its punishment for the school over the reported cover-up of child sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Workers erected a blue tarp to keep cameras from recording the removal of the statue of the iconic coach whose image was shattered by investigators’ allegations that he was involved in covering up the abuse.

The NCAA said on Sunday it was preparing to announce “corrective and punitive measures” against Penn State.  ESPN has learned those penalties will be significant, including the loss of bowl appearances and several scholarships, which could be more damaging than a full one-year suspension of the football program.

Early Sunday morning, workers put up a tarp-covered fence around the statue of the famed football coach.  Plastic sheeting and blankets were wrapped around the likeness of Paterno.  Then came the sound of jackhammers ripping apart the base so a forklift could carry the statue away as the university deals with the stain of scandal.  

Not everyone was happy, but University President Rodney Ericson said in a statement that leaving the statue would be, “a recurring wound … an obstacle to healing … a lightning rod of controversy.”

The Penn State library will continue to carry Paterno’s name.

Revelations in a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh show that Paterno had been told, even before the statue was erected, that his defensive coordinator, Sandusky, was sexually abusing boys.

On Monday morning, NCAA President Mark Emmert will announce sanctions against Penn State.  ESPN College Football Reporter Joe Schad says the penalties will be extraordinary.

“He (Emmert) wants everybody to understand that in extraordinary situations such as this, that an egregious failure to action took place, that he will step up, that he will make a decision that lets people understand that Penn State’s situation can never happen again,” Schad said.

This is a unique situation because NCAA bylaws don’t cover what happened at Penn State.  So, Schad said, Emmert went to the board of trustees of the NCAA for authority to levy penalties.  Emmert, according to Schad, “found a way to do something that they felt needed to be done, to do something that they felt would create at least some semblance of justice in a situation that was so horrific.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul222012

Joe Paterno Statue Removed at Penn State

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Penn State University’s statue of legendary football coach Joe Paterno was removed from campus Sunday morning in the wake of an investigation that harshly criticized Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.

Penn State president Rodney Erickson issued a statement shortly before the statue was removed that said, “Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location.”

The bronze statue, an image of Paterno running out of the locker room with his players in tow, was toppled onto its side and is being carried out by a forklift.

In response to the statue’s removal, Paterno’s family issued this statement: “Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State Community. We believe the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth.”

The statement goes on to say that Paterno never had a hearing, and only selective evidence has been made public. The Freeh report, Paterno’s family says, is not the equivalent of a fair trial, although it has been accepted by the media as the definitive conclusion on the Sandusky scandal.

“It is not the University’s responsibility to defend or protect Joe Paterno. But they at least should have acknowledged that important legal cases are still pending and that the record on Joe Paterno, the Board and other key players is far from complete,” the statement reads.

Several fans of the late coach showed up with their rally cry, chanting, “We are Penn State.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

Paterno Family Plans Own Investigation After Freeh Report on Penn State Abuse

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- The family of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno announced Monday that it plans to conduct its own investigation into the report that concluded that Paterno and other top Penn State officials worked to conceal Jerry Sandusky's long-running alleged sexual abuse to protect the school from negative attention. The report was compiled by former FBI chief Louis Freeh.

"We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed," the family said of the report. "We believe numerous issues in the report, and [Freeh's] commentary, bear further review."

After the report was released on July 12, the family it consulted its attorneys to perform their own review, calling the findings "another shocking turn of events in this crisis."

"To those who are convinced that the Freeh report is the last word on this matter, that is absolutely not the case," the family said. "With that said, we want to take this opportunity to reiterate that Joe Paterno did not shield Jerry Sandusky from any investigation or review."

"To help prevent this sort of tragedy from happening again at Penn State or any other institution, it is imperative that the full story be told," they said.

The 267-page Freeh report was an indictment of how Penn State officials, including Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley, and former vice president for finance Gary Schultz handled Sandusky's behavior.

"What's shocking is that the four of them, the most powerful people at Penn State University, made the decision to conceal this," Freeh said at a press conference following the report's release.

[Read the full Freeh report.]

"The motivation [was] to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, and not just bad publicity, but what are the consequences -- other investigations, donors being upset, the university community being very upset -- raising questions about what they themselves did in 1998," Freeh said. "Bad publicity has consequences for the brand of Penn State University, the reputation of coaches, the ability to do fundraising. It's got huge implications."

Freeh's report revealed for the first time that all four men knew about the 1998 investigation that said Sandusky had been seen showering with a young boy. It said they made a careful decision after a 2001 allegation of sexual abuse not to report it to police. The investigation included 430 interviews and reviews of 3.5 million emails and other documents.

The report also singled out the university's board of trustees for oversight failures and promoting a culture where dissent was discouraged.

Penn State trustee Kenneth Frazier and new board chairwoman Karen Peetz said the board accepted responsibility for allowing the four men the power to conceal the allegations against Sandusky.

"The board of trustees, as a group, has paramount accountability for overseeing and ensuring the proper functioning and governance of the university, and accepts full responsibility for failures that have occurred," Peetz said.

She said members would work quickly to adopt all of Freeh's recommendations for how to increase oversight of administrators and ensure crimes like Sandusky's cannot happen on campus again.

"Accepting full accountability means that not only are we taking blame, if you will, for these events, but that we are also determined to fix the governance," Peetz said.

Freeh sidestepped questions about whether trustees ought to quit if they were on the board during the 14-year period when the incidents were said to have occurred. Board members have steadfastly rejected calls for the full board's resignation.

When asked whether the university would reevaluate how it honors Paterno, Frazier and Peetz said no decision had been made yet. There is a statue of Paterno on campus, and buildings are named for him.

"The whole topic of Joe Paterno being honored or not being honored is sensitive and has been dialogued for some time," Peetz said. "We believed, with the report's findings, it's something that needs to continue to be discussed with the entire university, not just the board."

The investigation report revealed emails traded among Spanier, Schultz and Curley in which the three men discussed the investigations into Sandusky and mentioned Paterno's involvement in decisions about Sandusky. Schultz, Paterno, and Spanier all later said that they were never informed of a 1998 incident that involved sexual or inappropriate touching.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul132012

Penn State Faces $5M in Child Sex Abuse Case Settlements

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- The Penn State child sex abuse investigation has already cost the university more than $12 million in crisis communication and legal fees.  And the university is expected to shell out at least an additional $5 million in settlements, experts estimate.

“I think that Penn State will likely be able to settle all of these sexual misconduct claims for something in the area of $5 million. There will be one or two claims that will be fairly expensive but the majority will go for a reasonable number,” said John Roskopf, vice president of Risk Management at EIIA, a non-profit association.

A scathing report on Thursday commissioned by the public college found that top university officials over a 14-year period covered up molestation by assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted on 45 counts, some of which occurred on the campus.

“My assumption is that the investigation costs are basically over and now the costs are going to be settling cases,” said Tom Bark, a  professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

According to Roskopf, “a reasonable figure [for sexual misconduct] is $500,000 on average.”

He added, “surprisingly, sexual misconduct claims do not settle for the large amounts the public think they would go for.  A $500,000 settlement for some of these victims is probably substantial.”

On Nov. 21, 2011, the college hired Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP to conduct an independent investigation into the failure of university personnel to report abuse allegations against Sandusky and the circumstances surrounding abuse at the school's facilities.

A Special Investigative Council retained by Penn State University for a seven-figure fee found that four of the University’s most powerful people concealed “critical facts” in order to avoid the consequences of “bad publicity” in connection to the Sandusky child abuse case from the school’s trustees, the Penn State community and the public.

University officials on Thursday called the report “sad and sober” and held itself “accountable” for the findings.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul102012

Penn State Has Record Donations During Sandusky Scandal

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- During one of the most difficult and scandal scarred years on record for Penn State University, donations poured into the school from a record number of donors.

The Nittany Lions raised more than $208 million during the 2011-2012 school year, even as former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged and convicted with molesting children on campus property, former head football coach Joe Paterno was fired, former president Graham Spanier resigned, and athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Shultz were criminally charged with perjury and failing to report sex abuse.

The amount raised was the second highest in Penn State’s history, but the number of individual donors was higher in 2011-2012 than any time before in Penn State’s history. More than 190,000 donors gave money to the school. Penn State said the record numbers showed that “donors remain connected to and strongly invested in Penn State.”

“We are grateful to the scores of donors who, through incredibly difficult circumstances, have supported our students and our institution in record numbers,” Vice President Rodney Kirsch wrote in an online statement.

The child sex abuse scandal rattled the university, causing a student riot the night that Paterno was fired in November 2011. Outraged alumni demanded that the Board of Trustees resign over their decision to fire the legendary coach, who was accused by the state attorney general’s office of not doing enough to stop Sandusky after he was told about an alleged sex abuse incident in 2001.

Multiple investigations were launched into how the university handled the sexual abuse allegations and why they were never reported to police, including a federal criminal investigation, a federal Department of Education investigation, a NCAA investigation, and an internal investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

The results of Freeh’s investigation are expected to be released this week.

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