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Penn State Failed To Comply With Federal Law For Two Decades

Illustration for article titled Penn State Failed To Comply With Federal Law For Two Decades

Aside from being morally repugnant, Penn State officials' failure to report the incident concerning Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting Victim 2 to the university police department in 2001 was a violation of federal law.

As a university that participates in federal financial aid programs, Penn State is required to follow the regulations that are laid out in the Clery Act. The purpose of the Clery Act is to keep campus community members informed of all criminal activity that has taken place on university property. The act requires universities to collect statistics relating to certain types of crime, including sexual offenses, and publish those statistics in an annual report. Each university must collect its data from designated Campus Security Authorities (CSAs). According to the Department of Education, CSAs include a wide variety of university employees, including, "A director of athletics, a team coach or faculty advisor to a student group."

The Freeh Report found that Penn State was in non-compliance with the Clery Act for over a decade. The law went into effect in 1991, but according to the Freeh Report, nobody on the Penn State campus knew that the Clery Act required that information be gathered from sources outside of the police department until 2007. From 1991 to 2007 compliance responsibilities were given to a campus crime prevention officer, who claims that he didn't receive any formal training on his new role until 2007, when the responsibilities were shifted to a sergeant within the campus police department. At that point, the university police department organized training sessions for university police and employees to try and inform people of their responsibilities as CSAs. These training sessions were, however, "sporadic" and "not well attended," according to the Freeh Report.


In April of 2009 the director of the university police department and the sergeant who was in charge of ensuring that the university was compliant with the Clery Act drafted a new policy that would have required written notification of their status and responsibility be sent to all CSAs on campus. By November of 2011 that policy had yet to be implemented, and former university president Graham Spanier told Freeh's investigators that he was unaware that the policy had not moved past the draft stage.

As CSAs, Paterno and Curley were compelled by federal law to report the 2001 Sandusky incident to the university police department so that it could be included in the school's Clery Act annual report. Too bad the university never got around to explaining that responsibility to them at any point during the last 20 years.

Read all our coverage of the Freeh report here.

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