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Penn State BOT Votes Against Reopening Freeh Report in Heated Meeting

by on October 28, 2014 1:22 PM

The Penn State Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday not to reexamine the controversial Freeh report, but the decision was far from unanimous or civil.

The back-and-forth between trustees grew loud and heated, while several audience members were escorted out after interrupting the debate by screaming at the board.

One woman, who identified herself as alumna and donor Denise McClellan, called Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Masser a “jackass” and proclaimed she was “proud to be kicked out.” McClellan later told StateCollege.com the "jackass" comment was directed at the security guard escorting her from the room.

Trustee Al Lord originally brought a resolution to the board in July, proposing to create a four-member subcommittee that would examine the Freeh report, meet with investigator Louis Freeh and report back to the board.

This proposal came back again in September and again Tuesday morning, at which point it was ultimately defeated 17-9. The alumni-elected trustees – including Lord, Anthony Lubrano, Alice Pope and William Oldsey – voted for Lord’s resolution.

The remaining trustees – including representatives from various industries and those appointed by the governor – made up the majority of the vote that defeated the resolution.

The Freeh report was commissioned by Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in 2011. Completed by investigator Louis Freeh, the report criticizes Penn State’s leadership for having "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large."

In the defeated resolution, Lord argued that “certain conclusions of the Freeh Report have damaged the reputations of Penn State, certain of its former officials, and its Board of Trustees.”

Alumni-elected trustee Robert Jubelirer grew very passionate while attempting to convince the board to reopen the Freeh Report.

“We have sat by and watched ourselves be belittled, be libeled,” Jubelirer said.  “I have been asked ‘how come you guys didn’t know that Joe Paterno was a pedophile for all that time.’ It’s sick and disgusting that that’s how many people in public at large view us.”

He demanded for Freeh himself to appear before the board and explain himself and his report, prompting applause from the audience.

Agricultural-representative trustee Keith Eckel argued that reopening the Freeh report would only serve to dredge up the past and keep the trustees from addressing other issues. He urged the board to vote against the resolution to keep the university moving forward.

The Penn State University Park Undergraduate Association has expressed similar concerns about moving forward as a university. The UPUA voted earlier this month to oppose an attempt to reinvestigate the Freeh report. 

Trustee member Dandrea pointed out that many of the documents that would be needed for a full and thorough examination of the report are also related to several ongoing criminal cases and civil lawsuits that came out of the Sandusky scandal. Since the board lacks subpoena power, they would be unable to obtain these documents.

Alumni-elected trustee William Oldsey responded that Freeh had many of the same problems in his investigation, leading to what he called an “incomplete” report. He asked why the board would accept the Freeh report as valid if the investigation was not thorough.

“If you feel at all compromised by the various things going in the legal world, and you’re on this board and concerned that you can’t do the right thing… I would suggest to you that you resign,” Lord said.

The board did a pass a separate resolution proposed by trustee Kathleen Casey to actively monitor the various court proceedings that came out the Sandusky scandal. Lord questioned whether a resolution was necessary, since the board is already closely following these cases.

Former Penn State administrators Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley are awaiting criminal trials in Dauphin County court for allegedly covering up the Sandusky scandal. Former university president Spanier has also filed a lawsuit against Freeh for alleged defamation.

Former Penn State assistant coaches Jay Paterno and William Kenney have sued the NCAA for alleged conspiracy and defamation. The NCAA used the Freeh report as the basis for the sanctions it imposed on Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, including a $60 million fine.

The NCAA is also engaged in two different lawsuits with various Pennsylvania elected officials over the where the $60 million fine against Penn State should be spent.

Casey's resolution to monitor these cases passed 17-8 in an almost perfect reversal of the vote that defeated Lord’s proposal. Alumni-elected trustee Adam Taliaferro abstained from this vote.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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