Ex-FBI director Louis Freeh takes reins of Penn State inquiry
A besieged Penn State on Monday bowed to demands for an independent investigation into the child sex-abuse scandal engulfing the school, and announced that the former head of the FBI -- Louis Freeh -- would take over with unlimited authority to investigate anyone and anything.
"No one is above scrutiny," university trustee Kenneth Frazier said in announcing the appointment Monday at a news conference, adding that Freeh will be empowered to investigate employees up to and including the board of trustees itself. He also promised that the results of the investigation would be made public, according to the New York Daily News.
Freeh led the FBI from 1993 to 2001 and then later formed Group International Europe, a private investigation firm.
The scope of Freeh's investigation is expected to center on what school officials knew about allegations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, and what they did -- or did not do -- with such information. Sandusky faces 40 charges that he sexually abused eight children over a 15-year period.
The Associated Press reports that Freeh's inquiry will go as far back as 1975, suggesting a much longer period of suspected abuse than was outlined in a grand jury report issued earlier this month.
Sandusky maintains his innocence, but admits: "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
There are allegations that some Penn State officials were well aware of suspicions about inappropriate behavior involving Sandusky and young boys, yet took no action and may even have actively covered up such reports.
The unfolding scandal has already destroyed several careers, including that of former head football coach Joe Paterno, who was forced to step down.
Previously, the school had appointed two of its own trustees to handle an internal investigation into the matter, headed up by Frazier, who is the chief executive of Merck pharmaceutical company, and by state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis.
But that was met with repeated demands that the probe be handled by an outsider with no perceived conflict of interest -- and with an investigatory background.
-- Rene Lynch
Photo: Former FBI Director Louis Freeh is shown in 2002. Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images