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July 15, 2013

Penn State gets report on federal Sandusky probe

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State has received a preliminary report from the federal government regarding whether its handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal complied with campus crime reporting requirements, the university said today.

The school said that neither it nor the U.S. Department of Education was permitted under the law to release information about the report at this time, but that details will be made public after the federal agency makes a final determination when it finishes its review.

Pennsylvania prosecutors have alleged that high-ranking university officials failed to properly report suspected abuse of children by Sandusky, a retired assistant football coach who was convicted a year ago of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

Penn State said school officials have given federal reviewers access to the records and information they have requested to see whether the school complied with a 1990 U.S. law called the Clery Act. The law, named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and killed in a campus residence hall in 1986, requires universities to publish annual reports and maintain a daily crime log.

Violations of the law can result in a school losing its authority to offer federal student aid, and although that has never happened, the nature of the allegations against Penn State was unprecedented and had many of the school’s strongest allies concerned. The Education Department has leveled fines, however, of up to $27,500 per violation.

The university said it has hired a full-time employee to help it comply with the Clery Act.

The contents of the Education Department’s report were closely held. The law that governs the review process prescribes secrecy ahead of the report’s final draft. Given the report’s preliminary nature — and the university’s potential to reshape it — no one was rushing to share the initial findings.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were expected to heavily pressure the department once the findings become public. Given the school’s high profile in Pennsylvania and the potential impact of the Education Department’s report, lawmakers were expected to consult with officials on what penalties could be prescribed for the university.

Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence and maintains his innocence.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for this month for the three former Penn State administrators accused of a criminal conspiracy, allegedly covering up complaints about Sandusky mistreating boys. Former president Graham Spanier, retired athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz all deny the allegations.

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