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Freeh: Timeline of Sandusky Investigation, Penn State Actions

A timeline of significant Sandusky events, according to the Freeh report.

On Thursday morning, former FBI director Judge Louis Freeh released his much anticipated investigation into Penn State's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal.

In the investigation, which involved interviews with over 400 individuals and the review of "millions" of e-mails, Freeh concluded that head football coach Joe Paterno, University President Graham Spanier, VP Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Tim Curley "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest."

Below is a timeline contained in the 267 page report. All words and analysis are direct text of the Freeh investigation, which can be viewed in full here.

Timeline of Significant Events

1969

  • Sandusky joins the Penn State football coaching staff. 

February, 1998 

  • After learning that Paterno has told Sandusky that he would not become the next head football coach, Curley begins discussions with Sandusky about other positions at the University, including an Assistant AD position that Sandusky turns down. Curley keeps Spanier and Schultz informed by email.

May 3, 1998

  • Sandusky assaults Victim 6 in Lasch Building shower. 

May 4-30, 1998

  • Victim 6's mother reports to the University Police Department that Sandusky showered with her 11-year old son in the Lasch Building on Penn State campus. The police promptly begin an investigation.  
  • Schultz is immediately informed of the investigation and notifies Spanier and Curley. Schultz's confidential May 4, 1998 notes about Sandusky state:  "Behavior - at best inappropriate @ worst sexual improprieties" and "At min - Poor Judgment."  Schultz also notes: "Is this opening of pandora's box?" and "Other children?"  
  • University Police Department Chief Harmon emails Schultz: "We're going to hold off on making any crime log entry. At this point in time I can justify that decision because of the lack of clear evidence of a crime." 
  • Curley notifies Schultz and Spanier that he has "touched base with" Paterno about the incident.  Days later, Curley emails Schultz:  "Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands."
  • Board meeting on May 15: Spanier does not notify the Board of the ongoing investigation.

June 1998

  • District Attorney declines to bring charges against Sandusky.
  • University Police detective and Department of Public Welfare caseworker interview Sandusky in Lasch Building so as not to put Sandusky "on the defensive." Sandusky admits hugging Victim 6 in the shower but says there was nothing "sexual about it."  The detective advised Sandusky not to shower with any child. Sandusky stated he "wouldn't."  
  • Harmon emails Schultz: officers "met discreetly" with Sandusky and "his account of the matter was essentially the same as the child's."  Sandusky said "he had done this with other children in the past.  Sandusky was advised that there was no criminal behavior established and that the matter was closed as an investigation."
  • Schultz emails Curley and Spanier: "I think the matter has been appropriately investigated and I hope it is now behind us."  

January 1999

  • Curley emails Spanier and Schultz: Sandusky wants to coach one more year and then transition to an outreach program.

May-August 1999

  • Sandusky writes a letter to Curley saying, because he will not be next head football coach, he is considering retirement. Sandusky also seeks "to maintain a long-term relationship with the University."
  • Curley emails Spanier and Schultz, discussing Sandusky's retirement options: "Joe did give him the option to continue to coach as long as he was the coach."  Suggests possibility of Sandusky "coaching three more seasons."
  • Sandusky proposes continuing connection with Penn State, including running a middle school youth football camp and finding "ways for [Sandusky] to continue to work with young people through Penn State." Paterno handwriting on the note states:  "Volunteer Position Director - Positive Action for Youth."
  • A retirement agreement with Sandusky is reached in June 1999, including an unusual lump sum payment of $168,000, an agreement for the University to "work collaboratively" with Sandusky on Second Mile and other community activities, and free lifetime use of East Area Locker Room facilities.
  • As the retirement package is being finalized, Curley requests the emergency re-hire of Sandusky for the 1999 football season, which is approved.
  • In August 1999, Sandusky is granted "emeritus" rank, which carries several privileges, including access to University recreational facilities. Documents show the unusual request for emeritus rank originated from Schultz, was approved by Spanier, and granted by the Provost, who expressed some uneasiness about the decision given Sandusky's low academic rank and the precedent that would be set. 

December 1999 

  • Sandusky brings Victim 4 to 1999 Alamo Bowl in Texas
  • Sandusky assaults Victim 4 at team hotel. 

November 2000

  • Sandusky assaults Victim 8 in Lasch Building shower.
     
  • Janitor observes assault by Sandusky, but does not report the assault for fear that "they'll get rid of all of us."  Another janitor concludes that the University will close ranks to protect the football program. 

February 9, 2001 

  • Sandusky assaults Victim 2 in Lasch Building Shower.
     
  • McQueary witnesses the assault by Sandusky. 

February 10-12, 2001

  • McQueary reports the assault to Paterno on Saturday, February 10; Paterno tells McQueary, "you did what you had to do. It's my job now to figure out what we want to do." 
  • Paterno reports the incident to Curley and Schultz on Sunday, February 11 as Paterno did not "want to interfere with their weekends."
  • On Sunday, February 11, Schultz consults with University outside counsel Wendell Courtney "re reporting of suspected child abuse."
  • On Monday, Spanier, Schultz and Curley meet to discuss a situation that Spanier describes as "unique", and a "heads-up" meeting; Schultz's confidential notes indicate he spoke to Curley, reviewed the history of the 1998 incident, and agreed that Curley would discuss the incident with Paterno and recommend that Curley meet with Sandusky.  Schultz notes state: "Unless he confesses to having a problem, [Curley] will indicate we need to have DPW review the matter as an independent agency concerned w child welfare." 
  • Schultz asks University Police Department Chief Harmon if the report of the 1998 incident is in police files; Harmon responds that it is.

February 25-26, 2001

  • Spanier, Schultz and Curley meet and devise an action plan, reflected in Schultz's notes: "3) Tell chair* of Board of Second Mile 2) Report to Dept of Welfare. 1) Tell JS [Sandusky] to avoid bringing children alone into Lasch Bldg *who's the chair??" The plan is confirmed in a subsequent email from Schultz to Curley. 

February 27-28, 2001

  • Curley emails Schultz and Spanier and says he [Curley] has changed his mind about the plan "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday." Curley now proposes to tell Sandusky "we feel there is a problem" and offer him "professional help." "If he is cooperative we would work with him to handle informing" the Second Mile; if Sandusky does not cooperate, "we don't have a choice and will inform" DPW and the Second Mile.  "Additionally, I will let him know that his guests are not permitted to use our facilities."
  • Spanier emails Curley and Schultz:  "This approach is acceptable to me."  He adds: "The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed."
  • Schultz concurs with the plan in an email to Curley and Spanier: "this is a more humane and upfront way to handle this." Schultz adds, "we can play it by ear" about informing DPW of the assault. 

March 5, 2001

  • Scheduled date of meeting between Curley and Sandusky.  In his 2011 Grand Jury testimony, Curley said he told Sandusky "we were uncomfortable" about the incident and would report it to the Second Mile.  Curley says he also told Sandusky to stop bringing children to the athletic facilities.  Sandusky's counsel later reports that no accusation of sexual abuse was made at this meeting and that Sandusky offered to provide the name of the boy to Curley, but Curley did not want the boy's name.

March 16, 2001

  • Board of Trustees meeting: Spanier does not report the Sandusky incident to the Board. 

March 19, 2001

  • Curley meets with the executive director of the Second Mile and "shared the information we had with him." The Second Mile leadership concludes the matter is a "non-incident," and takes no further action. 

July 24, 2001

  • Schultz leads a transaction to sell a parcel of University property to The Second Mile for $168,500 - the same as the University's 1999 acquisition cost.

August 2001

  • Sandusky assaults Victim 5 in Lasch Building shower. 

September 21, 2001

  • Board of Trustees meeting: Board approves land sale to The Second Mile; neither Spanier nor Schultz disclose any issue concerning Sandusky.

January 7, 2010

  • The University receives subpoenas from the Pennsylvania Attorney General for personnel records and correspondence regarding Sandusky. 

September 16, 2010

  • Patriot-News reporter contacts Spanier; the two exchange emails as to Spanier's knowledge of an investigation of Sandusky for suspected criminal activity while he was a Penn State employee. 

December 28, 2010- January 11, 2011

  • Then-Penn State General Counsel Cynthia Baldwin speaks to the Attorney General's Office staff about Grand Jury subpoenas for Schultz, Paterno and Curley; alerts Spanier of subpoenas; meets with Schultz, Paterno and Curley to discuss Sandusky; and calls former University outside counsel Wendell Courtney about his knowledge of Sandusky.
  • Courtney emails Schultz: Baldwin "called me today to ask what I remembered about JS issue I spoke with you and Tim about circa eight years ago.  I told her what I remembered.  She did not offer why she was asking, nor did I ask her.  Nor did I disclose that you and I chatted about this."
  • Courtney emails Baldwin that "someone ... contacted Children and Youth Services to advise of the situation so that they could do whatever they thought was appropriate under the circumstances, while being apprised of what PSU actions were, i.e., advising JS to no longer bring kids to PSU's football locker rooms."

January 12, 2011

  • Schultz, Paterno and Curley testify before the Grand Jury.

March 31, 2011

  • Patriot-News publishes article on Sandusky investigation. 

April 1, 2011

  • A Trustee emails Spanier, asking if the Board will be briefed about the Sandusky investigation reported in the paper.  Spanier tells the Trustee: "Grand Jury matters are by law secret, and I'm not sure what one is permitted to say, if anything. I'll need to ask Cynthia [Baldwin] if it would be permissible for her to brief the Board on the matter." 

April 13, 2011

  • The Trustee emails Spanier again: "despite grand jury secrecy, when high ranking people at the university are appearing before a grand jury, the university should communicate something about this to its Board of Trustees."  Spanier responds, downplaying the significance of the investigation: "I'm not sure it is entirely our place to speak about this when we are only on the periphery of this."  Spanier asks Baldwin to call the Trustee.
  • Spanier appears before the Grand Jury.
  • Spanier separately emails Baldwin, noting "[the Trustee] desires near total transparency.  He will be uncomfortable and feel put off until he gets a report."

April 17, 2011

  • Spanier, Baldwin and then Board Chair Garban have a conference call to discuss the Sandusky Grand Jury. 

May 12, 2011

  • Board of Trustees meeting: Spanier and Baldwin brief Board on status of Grand Jury investigation; Spanier and Baldwin downplay importance of the investigation to Penn State. The Board asks a few limited questions. 

July 15, 2011

  • Board of Trustees meeting: Spanier and Baldwin do not update the Board on the Sandusky investigation. The Board does not ask about the Sandusky investigation. 

September 9, 2011

  • Board of Trustees meeting: Spanier and Baldwin do not update the Board on the Sandusky investigation. The Board does not ask about the Sandusky investigation. 

October 27-28, 2011

  • Baldwin receives information on upcoming Grand Jury indictment. 
  • Baldwin, Spanier and Curley meet; Baldwin and Spanier also meet with Garban.
  • Spanier, Baldwin, Garban and staff draft press statement expressing "unconditional support" for Schultz and Curley.

October 29, 2011

  • Sandusky attends Penn State home football game and sits in Nittany Lion Club in Beaver Stadium. 

November 4, 2011

  • Courtney emails Schultz a newspaper story about the Sandusky charges.  Schultz replies:  "I was never aware that 'Penn State police investigated inappropriate touching in a shower' in 1998."
  • Criminal charges filed against Sandusky in Centre County; Grand Jury presentment attached as Exhibit A to criminal complaint.
  • Criminal charges are filed against Schultz and Curley in Dauphin County; Grand Jury presentment attached as Exhibit A to criminal complaint.

November 5, 2011

  • Sandusky is arrested.
  • Grand Jury presentment released, noting there was no "attempt to investigate, to identify Victim 2 or to protect that child or any others from similar conduct, except as related to preventing its re-occurrence on University property."
  • A Trustee asks Spanier, "What is going on, and is there any plan to brief the Board before our meeting next week?" Baldwin advises Spanier to tell the Trustee, "you are briefing the chair and the Board will be briefed next week."
  • Spanier issues a press release expressing "unconditional support" for Schultz and Curley; with regard to child victims, Spanier only states, "Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance."
  • Spanier emails Baldwin: Spanier says that if the Board is briefed, "it will be nothing more than what we said publicly."  The Board meets on a conference call that evening.
  • A senior administrator suggests an independent review of Penn State's intercollegiate athletics.  Baldwin replies, "If we do this, we will never get rid of this group in some shape or form. The Board will then think that they should have such a group." Spanier agrees. 

November 6, 2011

  • Board of Trustee meeting: Board places Curley on administrative leave; Schultz re-retires. Spanier issues a second press release stating that Curley and Schultz voluntarily changed their employment status. Board members disagree and express frustration at changed tone of press release.  Spanier says he only made "grammatical" edits to the press release.

November 7, 2011

  • Pennsylvania Attorney General and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner announce charges against Sandusky, Schultz and Curley at a press conference.
  • A Trustee writes to other Board members: "Unfortunately the statement that was issued last night, in my opinion, did not reflect the sense of the Board." 

November 8, 2011

  • Board of Trustees conference call:  Third press release issued, expressing "outrage" at the "horrifying details" of the Grand Jury presentment, and announcing the formation of an investigative task force to review issues relating to the criminal charges. 

November 9, 2011

  • Board of Trustees meeting: Board removes Spanier as President; names Rodney Erickson as Interim President (becomes permanent President on November 17, 2011); removes Paterno as Head Football Coach.
  • Board sends message to Paterno to phone the Board Vice Chair, who telephonically notifies Paterno that he is no longer Penn State's Head Football Coach.
  • Board holds press conference announcing its actions.
  • Students demonstrate in protest on Penn State campus. 

 


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