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Former FBI Director Freeh Named to Lead Penn State Investigation

on November 21, 2011 11:13 AM

A special Penn State committee has retained former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his firm to lead a internal investigation at the university, PSU trustee Kenneth Frazier announced Monday morning.

"I am committed to ensuring that our independent investigation will be conducted in a thorough, fair, comprehensive manner, leaving no stone unturned," Freeh said in a Center City Philadelphia press conference. " ... Our mandate is clear: We have been tasked to investigate the matter fully, fairly and completely," showing no favoritism to any parties -- including the university board.

"The special committee has assured us of total independence," Freeh said.

The 32-member Penn State board initiated the special committee about two weeks ago, shortly after criminal charges of child sexual abuse were filed against former football coach Jerry Sandusky. Two now-former university administrators -- Tim Curley and Gary Schultz -- are accused of helping to cover up allegations.

Tasked with identifying failures within Penn State and recommending internal reforms, the committee includes six university trustees, one graduate student, an alumnus and a Faculty Senate representative.

Frazier, the CEO of Merck and Co. Inc., is leading the committee along with Ron Tomalis, another trustee. Tomalis also is the Pennsylvania secretary of education.

Speaking Monday, Frazier said people are asking "completely valid questions about why actions were not taken that might have saved any of the victims from harm.

"Words alone cannot express the heartbreak and sorrow we feel for the victims," Frazier said, "even more so because they were defenseless young children. We are especially heartbroken that some of these unspeakable acts could have occurred on the campus of Penn State University. We care deeply for the victims (and) their families, whose lives have been tragically affected."

Frazier reiterated that "it is a clear and absolute imperative for everyone in a position of power" to report properly and stop any such crimes. He also expressed that the entire Penn State community is "deeply, deeply sorry."

The university board, Frazier went on, "is committed ... to get to the bottom of what happened" and make any necessary reforms to prevent any such harm in the future.

"No one ... is above scrutiny," he said.

Freeh, a former top prosecutor and judge, is particularly well suited to lead an internal investigation, Frazier said. He underscored that Freeh, experienced in fighting sex crimes, has no Penn State ties and no Pennsylvania ties "to speak of," either.

Addressing reporters, Freeh emphasized that he personally will lead the investigation. He called the allegations in the matter "extraordinarily serious."

Already, Freeh said, he has spoken with state Attorney General Linda Kelly. He will speak soon with Penn State police and the state police, as well, he said.

Freeh put no anticipated time line or price tag on his effort, which is separate from the ongoing criminal investigation being undertaken by law-enforcement authorities. He said he has assembled a team of professionals with no connections to Penn State. They want to hear from all witnesses and anyone else who has relevant information, Freeh said.

To that end, he said, a hotline for people wishing to share information will be activated at 5 p.m. Monday. The number: (855) 290-3382.

An e-mail address has been created for the same purpose: psuhelp@freehgroup.com.

Freeh said his effort, once complete, will include recommendations to Penn State. His report will be made public at roughly the same time it's delivered to the Penn State board, he said.

Last week, the university Faculty Senate moved to ask Penn State for a wholly independent investigation, one entirely separate of the trustees' special-committee efforts. Asked Monday about that Faculty Senate request, Frazier said he believes the Freeh-led effort fulfills the spirit of what the Faculty Senate wants.

"We 100 percent agree with the underlying sentiment of the faculty," Frazier said.

" ... We're all striving to get to the same outcome," which is to improve Penn State, he said.

Frazier said the press conference was held in Philadelphia as a means to distribute information as quickly as possible after Freeh's retention. Penn State's University Park campus, in State College, is largely shuttered this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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