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Freeh heads Penn State probe

By Patrick Walters
Associated Press / November 22, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA - Former FBI director Louis Freeh, tapped to lead Penn State’s investigation into the child sex abuse allegations against a former assistant football coach, said his inquiry will go as far back as 1975, a much longer period than a grand jury report issued earlier this month.

Freeh was named yesterday to oversee the university board of trustees’ internal investigation into the abuse allegations that ultimately led to the ouster of longtime football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier.

Freeh said his goal was to conduct a comprehensive, fair, and quick review. His team of former FBI agents, federal prosecutors, and others has already begun the process of reading the grand jury report and looking at records.

“We will immediately report any evidence of criminality to law enforcement authorities,’’ said Freeh, who has no direct connection to Penn State.

Meanwhile, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., reported that the first known alleged victim of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky left his high school amid his senior year because of bullying.

Officials at Central Mountain High in Clinton County, Pa., said some students at the school reacted badly to Paterno’s firing and blamed the 17-year-old.

Mike Glum, a psychologist helping the family, said the name-calling and threats were too much for the youth to take.

Also, Frankie Probst, who met Sandusky through The Second Mile, a youth charity Sandusky started in 1977, said on NBC’s “Rock Center’’ last night that the coach was like a father figure but grew clingy as he got older.

Probst said he and Sandusky grew apart after six years. The 24-year-old Probst says he can’t recall any inappropriate behavior, though he says he started getting uncomfortable when Sandusky placed a hand above his knee while in a car.

Penn State has faced criticism since announcing its internal investigation would be led by two university trustees, Merck pharmaceutical company CEO Kenneth Frazier and state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis.

Faculty members have called for an independent investigation of how the university handled abuse allegations, and the faculty senate endorsed a resolution asking for an independent investigation.

In announcing Freeh’s appointment, Frazier stressed the former FBI director’s independence. Freeh will be empowered to investigate employees up to and including the board of trustees itself, Frazier said.

“No one is above scrutiny,’’ Frazier said.

Freeh said he had been assured there would be “no favoritism.’’ He called that assurance “the main condition of my engagement.’’

Sandusky is accused of molesting eight boys over a 15-year period beginning in the mid-1990s. Authorities say some assaults happened on campus and were reported to administrators but not to police.

Amid the scandal, Penn State’s trustees ousted Spanier and Paterno. The trustees said Spanier and Paterno failed to act after a graduate assistant claimed he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in a campus shower in 2002.

Paterno, who has the most wins of any major college football coach, has conceded he should have done more. Spanier has said he would have reported a crime if he had suspected one had been committed.

Sandusky has said he is innocent. He has acknowledged he showered with boys but said he never molested them.