Professors Weigh In on Legal Significance of the Freeh Report
Web Editor - Published: July 18, 2012
JusticeFootballPennStateLargeThe recent release of the 267-page report resulting from the eight-month independent investigation commissioned by Penn State’s trustees and conducted by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh into the circumstance surrounding the Jerry Sandusky scandal leads to a number of interesting legal questions that will be addressed in the weeks ahead.

Writing on Slate just before the release of the report, Health Law Institute Director John Culhane wrote about how the university can proceed in the wake of the scandal and what can be learned from the BP oil spill in a piece titled Penn State’s Disaster Cleanup.

“Establishing a sound program of victim compensation is a far better option—better for Sandusky’s victims, better for Penn State—than ad hoc litigation. But what will the details of that program be? Achieving fairness through a compensation fund poses a huge challenge. It is not hard to imagine that dozens of victims will come forward, many of whom may have until now remained silent. How would their compensation be decided? How would one victim’s years of abuse be measured against another’s? What about the possibility of fraudulent claims?” writes Culhane in the piece, before looking at a what Penn State might be able to learn from disaster relief initiatives when it comes to some sort of victim compensation fund.

Following the release of the report, Professor Culhane also spoke to Reuters about victim compensation for an article that was also carried in the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and on Yahoo! News, and was interviewed by WHYY on the subject on Friday, July 13th.

"Let's look at the fact that Penn State very quickly commissioned an independent and well-respected person to conduct the investigation and issue the report, and then made the report public immediately in all its gory details. I mean, I think they've already taken a huge first step," he said in the WHYY interview, which was also carried on WITF-FM in Harrisburg.

Associate Professor Jules Epstein spoke to the Chronicle of Higher Education about former PSU President Graham Spanier’s potential vulnerability to criminal charges stemming from the information in the report for the article A Powerful President Sought First to Protect His University's Reputation.

Comparing the situation to a recent case in which a senior official in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was convicted of a crime for covering up sexual abuse in the church, Epstein said, "If I were prosecutor, I might ask if Spanier knew and covered up, and that caused future children to be harmed."

Professor Epstein also spoke about the report for Paula Reid’s piece, The legal significance of the Freeh report, which appeared on cbsnews.com.