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Ken Frazier: The Paterno Report is 'Largely Non-Responsive or Irrelevant'

by on March 14, 2013 7:50 PM

Penn State trustee Ken Frazier says the Paterno report offers no new facts and it is "crystal clear" the Board of Trustees should not re-investigate the Freeh report. It was Frazier who led the Special Task Force that selected Louis Freeh to conduct an independent investigation of Penn State.

"The Paterno report was just that – a report," Frazier said, and that it offered "no new facts" that added to the narrative of the past year and a half. 

Frazier was offering his own opinion on the matter, not on behalf of any other board members. The Special Task Force disbanded when the Freeh report was released in July. 

Frazier said while he can understand the intention of the Paterno family in releasing a report defending Joe Paterno, he does not believe it changes anything and does not see it as a counter to the Freeh report because the board is not going to discontinue its progress in implementing Freeh's 119 recommendations, nor will the board re-investigate the report. 

"The Paterno report is therefore, largely non-responsive or irrelevant," Frazier said.

The focus needs to be squarely on the victims and making amends, moving on from the criminal acts that occurred repeatedly on the University Park campus and emerging as an example of proactive awareness and safety all other institutions can look up to. 

"We have to learn from the sad things that happened on our campus. Without drawing any conclusions when it comes to child sexual abuse, we the adults in this community, or any other community must prevent the preventable. In order to do so, we must report the reportable.

"It is that simple and that straight forward," Frazier said. "The actions of this board are not simply being watched by Penn State or those in the State College community, but those around the world." 

"It is crystal clear: we as a board can not and will not re-investigate the Freeh investigation. We cannot rewrite history," he said. 

Later, members of the public were allowed to address members of the committee. Wendy Silverwood and Bill Cluck, both Penn State alumni, challenged Frazier on the handling of the release of the Freeh report and the contract with the firm, Free Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP. Frazier turned in his chair to face them and fired back, defending his earlier remarks. 

Whether former Penn State administrators Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are acquitted does not matter, Frazier said. The board had to make a decision in a crisis situation. 

"It became abundantly clear people did not take actions to protect children," he said. 

Meanwhile, Regis Becker, the new Director of University Compliance, and Julie Del Giorno, Penn State's recently-hired Athletic Integrity Officer, were introduced to the committee. Both hirings fulfill recommendations laid out in the Freeh report. 

In enacting nearly 70 percent of the Freeh recommendations, Penn State has made significant progress in ensuring campus safety. It is among the first institutions in the country to mandate formal training sessions and online Clery Act training will be rolled out in the next few months. 

University faculty will be required to re-certify their Clery training each year, another first. 

Penn State also opted to commit to "timely notice," which means alerting members of the community immediately when Penn State Police receive a report of sexual assault. It was not a Freeh recommendation but university officials took the initiative. 

Penn State now also provides 'whistle-blower' protection to anyone who reports suspected sexual abuse, ensuring job security for any employee who speaks up. 

Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations, Mark Bodenschatz, briefed the committee on new security measures put in place within the athletic department, including limited use of facilities for students, faculty, staff and guests. Turnstiles may be implemented and security desks could be put in place where employees can sign in guests, he said. 

There is also an effort to increase transparency within the youth programs, such as implementing background checks and mandatory training, with more transparency of policies and the safety procedures involved. 

"Judge Freeh's recommendations have been an invaluable North Star as we implement changes, as we make our university stronger and more accountable," Frazier said. "That's why we stay 100 percent committed to Judge Freeh's recommendations where appropriate."

Frazier said while the board never formally voted to accept the Freeh report, they did come together as a unit to discuss it. 

Related coverage: 

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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