November 22, 2011
Last week, in the wake of the recent appalling Penn State University child sexual assault allegations, the leaders of the National Organization for Women and Pennsylvania NOW called on Penn State to expand the composition and goals of the committee tasked with investigating these allegations. We specifically called for an independent committee to investigate these allegations, to review policies and reporting methods across the board at Penn State and to include all forms of campus violence within its scope.
Yesterday, Ron Frazier, a member of the PSU Board of Trustees and chair of the PSU Special Investigative Committee, announced that the committee hired Louis J. Freeh, former FBI director, to lead the independent investigation. Mr. Freeh stated that he has been assured that his investigation will be "fully independent" and that it will focus on any incident that interacts with the university dealing with "these types" of incidents, including cases of adult sexual assault. Mr. Freeh also stated that he would be looking into the "governance, controls, procedures and leadership" at the university to improve the climate of safety at the university and that his team of investigators includes former FBI agents, assistant U.S. attorneys, pedophile investigators and compliance investigators.
NOW believes that this is a good start to our call for a broader, independent investigation if -- and only if -- Mr. Freeh is "fully independent" as he stated. However, questions have been raised about his independence, and these questions must be completely answered.
We call on Mr. Freeh to include in his investigation all forms of campus violence, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Unless PSU's systematic climate of indifference, particularly within Athletics, is comprehensively reviewed and changed, we believe that these types of appalling acts will continue to be hidden and will not end. We also believe that, in addition to attorneys and law enforcement experts, the investigative team needs to include experts and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence against both children and adults. Mr. Freeh and his committee must take their experiences and suggestions seriously.
Mr. Freeh has set up a hotline to his risk management firm at 855-290-3382 and firstname.lastname@example.org for individuals with any knowledge about any incident or policy, or the PSU climate, to contact him.
NOW activists will be closely monitoring the investigation in the hope that it will be truly independent, comprehensive in scope and aimed squarely at achieving -- at long last -- full enforcement of the school's 2006 zero-tolerance policy.