Freeh to lead impartial and comprehensive assessment of University’s actions, governance, protocols, decision-making and oversight
People with relevant information encouraged to call newly-established hotline
Findings and recommendations to be made public
PHILADELPHIA – The special committee of The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees announced Monday that it has engaged former FBI Director and federal judge Louis J. Freeh to lead an independent investigative review into all aspects of the University’s actions with regard to the allegations of child abuse involving a former Penn State employee contained in the recent Grand Jury report. The special committee and Freeh said that the findings and recommendations of this work, when completed, will be made available to the public. No specific timeframe has been set for completion of the review.
Ken Frazier, chairman of the special committee, said, “Each of us in the Penn State community read the Grand Jury report with the same sense of dismay and anger that has stunned and shocked our entire nation and the wider world. We are especially heartbroken that some of these unspeakable acts could have occurred on the campus of Penn State University. We care deeply for the victims and their families whose lives have been tragically affected. The board also understands how difficult this has been for the students, faculty, staff and others who are dealing with the shock and revulsion at what happened.
“The entire Board of Trustees is intent on taking all steps necessary to ensure that our institution never again has to ask whether it did the right thing, or whether or not it could have done more. We are committed to leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of what happened, who knew what when, and what changes we must make to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Therefore, we are pleased that Judge Freeh has agreed to lead a thorough and independent investigative review of this matter,” concluded Frazier.
Ron Tomalis, vice-chairman of the special committee, said, “Judge Freeh is a man of complete integrity, independence and objectivity. The scope of his work will be expansive, and he is free to take his work to whatever conclusions he deems appropriate. No one at Penn State will be exempt from this review, including the Board of Trustees itself.”
Freeh commented, “I am committed to leading the investigation into this tragic and distressing series of events and making the appropriate recommendations. Our investigation will look carefully at the governance, protocols, decision-making and oversight within the University. We will cooperate fully with the law enforcement authorities, will defer to them, and will not impede their work in any way.
“I welcome the unequivocal support the special committee and the entire board have offered for full access and cooperation. They have directed me to carry out this investigation with complete independence, and take it wherever it may lead. I will proceed with all deliberate speed, but there are no limits on the duration of the investigation. We will work expeditiously as well as thoroughly.”
Freeh also announced that a confidential, toll-free hotline has been established for anyone with information that could assist in this investigation. The hotline number is 855-290-3382, which will be active starting at 5 p.m. EST today (Nov. 21). Those who wish to communicate with the investigation by email may do so at the following email address: PSUhelp@freehgroup.com
The special committee is comprised of University Trustees, students, faculty and other individuals affiliated with the Penn State community, including:
Ken Frazier, chairman; chief executive officer and president of Merck;
Ron Tomalis, vice-chair; secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education;
Mark Dambly, president of Pennrose Properties LLC;
Jesse Arnelle, attorney at law;
Keith Eckel, sole proprietor and president of Fred W. Eckel Sons Farms, and board chairman, Nationwide Insurance ;
Karen Peetz, vice chairman, chief executive officer, Financial Markets and Treasury Services, Bank of New York Mellon;
Dan Hagen, chair, University Faculty Senate, professor of animal science, College of Agricultural Sciences; and
Rodney Hughes, doctoral student, higher education, Penn State University.
In addition, the Board of Trustees has appointed Guion Bluford Jr. as a member of the special committee. Bluford is an eminent engineer, retired colonel of the U.S. Air Force and former NASA astronaut who participated in four Space Shuttle missions between 1983 and 1992.
Freeh serves as senior managing partner of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP. He also is the founder and chairman of Freeh Group International Solutions, an affiliated investigative consultancy.
Freeh was born in Jersey City, N.J., and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rutgers University in 1971. He received his juris doctor (JD) degree from Rutgers School of Law in 1974 and his master of laws (LLM) in criminal law from New York University School of Law in 1984. Freeh joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a special agent in 1975, working assignments in the New York field office and later transferring to Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In 1981, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York as an assistant United States attorney. Subsequently, he held positions there as chief of the Organized Crime Unit, deputy United States attorney, and associate United States attorney.
During this time, Freeh was the lead prosecutor in the “Pizza Connection” case, one of the largest and most complex investigations ever undertaken at the time by the U.S. government. The case involved an extensive drug-trafficking operation in the United States by Sicilian organized crime members. Following the investigation, Freeh served as the federal government’s principal courtroom attorney in the 14-month trial and won the conviction of 16 of 17 co-defendants. In 1990, he was appointed a special prosecutor by the attorney general to oversee the investigation into the mail-bomb murders of Federal Judge Robert Vance of Birmingham, Ala., and civil rights leader Robert Robinson of Savannah, Ga. This case became known as the VANPAC case. After extensive investigation, a suspect was apprehended, prosecuted and convicted.
In July 1991, former President George Bush appointed Freeh as U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York. While serving in this position he was nominated to be the director of the FBI by President William Clinton on July 20, 1993. He was confirmed by the Senate and was sworn in as director on Sept. 1, 1993 where Freeh remained through June 2001.