Punishments and investigations have come down on Penn State for the university's handling of Jerry Sandusky, with two PSU administrators still awaiting trial. And Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile, is still being investigated by a number of state and federal law enforcement agencies.
So what about the state and local child-protection agencies that failed to stop Sandusky? The local Children and Youth Services (CYS) and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) seem to have screwed things up all the way back in 1998, when Sandusky was investigated for several weeks after the mother of an 11-year-old boy accused Sandusky of touching the boy in a shower. Sandusky bear-hugged the boy, and at one point he lifted the boy up and held him under a shower head to rinse his hair. In the end, the district attorney's office chose not to press charges, and Sandusky continued to abuse children for many years.
What went wrong 14 years ago? Why didn't this incident result in charges, or at least keep Sandusky from having ongoing access to children?
• According to Sara Ganim's five-part series on The Second Mile published last month by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg (Pa.), DPW was required by state law to inform The Second Mile (defined as a child care agency) if one of its employees was under investigation for abuse, and to work with that agency on a plan of supervision for as long the investigation (which lasted several weeks) continued. It did neither.
• Jerry Lauro, a DPW investigator, told Ganim he was unaware of the need for a safety plan at the time. This would be the same Jerry Lauro who had also said in March that Penn State police never shared with him the evaluation of psychologist Alycia Chambers, who determined along with her colleagues that "the incidents meet all of our definitions, based on experience and education, of a likely pedophile's pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch, within a context of a 'loving,' 'special' relationship." Chambers had also noted in her evaluation that she had called the state's child-abuse hotline to make a report. So how was Lauro unaware of her evaluation? Why would he have needed to get it from Penn State police?
• According to the 1998 police report, Karen Arnold, the assistant district attorney at the time, had advised Penn State detective Ronald Schreffler not to have a second psychological evaluation of the alleged victim done. But it was done anyway—by John Seasock, who was not licensed as a psychologist at the time.
• Seasock determined the boy was not "placed in a situation where he was being 'groomed for future sexual victimization.'" He also cautioned that Sandusky should be advised to "stay out of such gray area situations in the future," according to the Freeh report. But who gave Seasock the go-ahead to do his evaluation? Seasock had "a contract to provide counseling services to [State College Children and Youth Services]," which had "several contracts with" The Second Mile, the Freeh report said. Seasock's evaluation did note that he was referred by a caseworker for CYS, though the Freeh report also said, "According to The Second Mile's counsel, there was no business relationship between Seasock and The Second Mile." Seasock later worked for Penn State as an "independent contractor," but the Freeh report found no connection between that employment and his 1998 evaluation in the Sandusky case.
• The Freeh report concluded: "A senior administrator of a local victim resource center familiar with the 1998 incident said the case against Sandusky was 'severely hampered' by Seasock's report."