Law enforcement officials investigating allegations of child abuse by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky faced a different task than a team of investigators hired by university trustees, Professor Dan Filler said in a Patriot News article published July 19.
The article notes that candidates in this year's race for Pennsylvania's state attorney general have adopted opposite positions on Gov. Tom Corbett's handling of the Sandusky investigation when he served as the commonwealth's lead law enforcement official. GOP candidate David Freed said the attorney general's office handled the matter well, while Democratic candidate Kathleen Kane said involving a grand jury in the child-abuse investigation slowed the process down.
Filler said the review led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh was done with the full support of the university, while investigators from the attorney general's office had to "tiptoe around."
On July 13, Filler told MSNBC that the Freeh report could lead to criminal charges against the university's former president.
"He's definitely at risk," Filler said of former Penn State President Graham Spanier, who along with other Penn State leaders failed to notify child welfare officials of reports that Sandusky had behaved inappropriately with minors, according the report released by former FBI Director Louis Freeh on July 12. Filler's observations were also featured in TheWeek.com which highlighted his comments in The Faculty Lounge blog.
On July 12, the Los Angeles Times quoted Filler as describing Freeh's report as “a wake-up call for every university with a major sports program.”
“What you see in the Freeh Report is a university that keeps the board out of the loop about important issues, fails to comply properly with the federal Clery Act, and more generally treats the athletic program as a free standing, separately managed entity not responsive to university concerns or oversights,” Filler said.
In a Huffington Post article, Filler said Penn State officials had engaged in "magical thinking" when declining to ban Sandusky from campus in the wake of incident witnessed by an assistant coach in 2001.
The report offers “a road map” to lawyers and plaintiffs who plan to sue the university, Filler told Bloomberg News in a story published July 12.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child abuse.
News coverage of Sandusky’s trial and its aftermath has featured extensive commentary by Filler, an expert on criminal law and sex offender community notification who is also the senior associate dean of academic and faculty affairs.
On July 10, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an opinion essay in which Filler explored the ways in which sex offender laws can backfire.
In a Reuters article that appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and MSNBC, Filler discussed Penn State’s announcement that it aims to settle claims with Sandusky’s victims.
“The biggest problem for Penn State is that they want to get these cases closed,” Filler said. “They want them behind them and they are going to want to spend some money to make that happen.”