Penn State implements ex-FBI boss' recommendations

By Mark Scolforo

Associated Press

Published: Friday, March 16 2012 3:35 p.m. MDT

Penn State President Rodney Erickson speaks during a meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Friday, March 16, 2012 in Hershey, Pa. The trustees are meeting in Hershey to discuss potential changes to the board amid criticism over its handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State trustees learned Friday that the university is implementing recommendations offered by ex-FBI director Louis Freeh, who's leading an internal investigation into a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant football coach.

The board met to discuss changes to the way it operates in a bid to become more open in the aftermath of harsh criticism over its handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, which has led to the firing of head coach Joe Paterno and the dismissal of then-school president Graham Spanier in November.

The details provided by Penn State President Rodney Erickson came as the school's lawyer said that a number of Penn State employees had received subpoenas from the state attorney general's office while Sandusky's lawyer told a judge he needs psychological reports, juvenile arrest records and other documents about his client's accusers to prepare for trial in the child sexual abuse case.

Defense attorney Joe Amendola filed a 17-page response that said several of the accusers used drugs and alcohol as juveniles, which may have affected their memories and could be used to challenge their testimony on the stand.

He also asked Judge John Cleland to order the release of a psychologist's report related to a person described as Victim 6 in a grand jury report because he believes it contains a conclusion that the boy wasn't sexually abused by Sandusky.

The grand jury said Victim 6's mother complained after he came home with wet hair after showering with Sandusky in 1998. The subsequent investigation by Penn State police did not result in any charges being filed at the time.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office declined comment on the filing by Amendola.

The sides are battling over what must be disclosed prior to Sandusky's trial on 52 counts, and Amendola said prosecutors should not be able to shield records through the secretive grand jury process.

"If the commonwealth can conceal evidence by presenting it to a grand jury, the temptation to abuse the grand jury practice will increase significantly," Amendola wrote.

Sandusky, 68, is confined to his home as he awaits an expected mid-May trial. He has denied the allegations he abused 10 boys over a 15-year period, including at his State College home and in university athletic facilities.

The development comes as Penn State begins implementing recommendations offered by Freeh.

Erickson told university trustees at a meeting in Hershey on Friday that the university is enhancing background checks for staffers working with children and adding more staffers to oversee its compliance with various federal laws and NCAA rules.

Erickson said Penn State will immediately retrieve keys, access cards and other property from people who aren't formally associated with the university. Sandusky had a key to the football building long after his 1999 retirement.

Freeh's investigation is focusing on whether Penn State did enough to stop Sandusky after he was accused of assaulting youths. The results of Freeh's investigation are expected later this year.

Erickson said a website that Penn State recently launched to foster greater transparency has garnered nearly 10,000 visitors and "seems to be facilitating a greater flow of information to our constituents."

As part of the changes adopted Friday, the 32-member Board of Trustees will now have five committees instead of three. A couple of existing committees were combined, while new groups will focus on outreach and development; governance; and risk, legal and compliance.

Trustee Joel Myers said the changes were positive results that emerged from a major negative and went along with a renewed emphasis on transparency.

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