By Sara Blair Matthews
The recent events at Penn State University are not limited to large state schools, evident in the 2008 Harclerode case where a University professor was convicted of the possession of child pornography. Public Safety has used these past incidents to strengthen their policies against crimes of this nature.
According to Jason Friedberg, chief of Public Safety, the Penn State sexual assault scandal was a watershed event that will open the door for many more victims to come forward with their stories of sexual assault.
“In Penn State’s case, their campus security force failed to understand their state and campus laws. Many of the people involved went directly to their bosses before the police department, which should not have been the case,” Friedberg said.
Friedberg said training of the Public Safety staff and University faculty is very important and many universities do not have a firm grasp on training and how to implement that into their safety routines.
The University follows the Campus Security Authority (CSA) policies when dealing with matters of crime and security on campus. Public Safety’s annual Safety, Security & Fire report states: “As required by the Clery Act, colleges and universities must annually compile and publish crime, fire and security information about their campuses.”
“A lot of campuses have bubbles. We use the CSAs to get people to understand that crimes are crimes,” Friedberg said. “We try to maintain lots of transparency with the CSAs. Through our daily logs and online reports, we try to maintain cultural transparency here on campus.”
An event vaguely similar to Penn State’s case occurred on campus a few years back. Jack Harclerode, a retired biology professor, was found guilty on 20 counts of possessing child pornography in 2008. Police found a portable hard drive with 207 sexually explicit images of underage boys in addition to lubricant, condoms and pornographic DVDs.
The laptop contained another 38 images of young children engaged in sexual acts.
“A few changes have occurred in the Public Safety Department since this case,” Friedberg said.
Public Safety has put in many standard national requirements and works closely with Lewisburg crime departments.
Friedberg pointed out that the Penn State case was different than the University’s because almost all the incidents occurred on the Penn State campus. For Harclerode, most of the incidents occurred in his home in Lewisburg.
Friedberg believes getting information out quickly is important, something that did not happen in the Penn State case. Charges against Sandusky were first brought to trial in 1998, but Ray Gricar, district attorney in Centre County, decided not to pursue the case. Gricar was later reported missing in 2005, and his car was incidentally found outside an antiques market he frequented in Lewisburg.
His laptop was found in the river without its hard drive three months later. There is no evidence to suggest it, but some believe it was an instance of foul play and that he was murdered due to important, and perhaps incriminating, evidence on his hard drive.
Public Safety hopes to avoid instances like this, where important information is kept under the wraps for many years and has harmful effects.
“We are getting information out more quickly. If issues or suspicious activity comes up, we act immediately,” Friedberg said.
Scandal Timeline (compiled by Amanda Ayers)
1969: Jerry Sandusky starts coaching career at PSU as a defensive line coach.
1998: First police report comes from the mother of one of the victims and it was investigated. Centre County District Attorney decides that there will be no criminal charge.
June 1999: Sandusky retires from Penn State, still holding emeritus status.
Fall 2000: A custodian (James Calhoun) observes Sandusky in the showers of the football building with a young boy (Victim 8, between 11 and 13 years old). He was pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy. Calhoun tells other janitorial staff immediately but did not report the incident.
March 1, 2002: A Penn State graduate assistant enters locker room and sees a naked boy (Victim 2, 10 years old), being subjected to anal intercourse in shower by Sandusky.
March 2, 2002: Graduate assistant calls Coach Joe Paterno and goes to Paterno’s home to report what saw.
March 3, 2002: Paterno calls Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley to forward information.
March 2002: Graduate assistant reports what he saw to Curley and Schultz. The graduate assistant is never questioned by university police and no one else conducts an investigation.
Spring 2007: During track season, Sandusky begins spending time with Victim 1 weekly, having him stay overnight at his residence in College Township, Pa.
Spring 2008: Victim 1’s mother calls boy’s school to report sexual assault. Sandusky’s contact with boy is terminated and he is barred from school district.
Early 2009: Investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General begins when a Clinton County teen boy tells authorities that Sandusky inappropriately touched him several times over a four-year period.
Nov. 5, 2011: Sandusky was arrested and released after $100,000 bail. He was arraigned on 40 criminal counts.
Nov. 7, 2011: Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said Paterno was not a target of the investigation but refused to say the same for Penn State President Graham Spanier. Curley and Schultz, who had stepped down from their positions, surrendered on the fact that they failed to alert police to complaints against Sandusky.
Nov. 8, 2011: Penn State abruptly canceled Paterno’s regular weekly press conference.
Nov. 9, 2011: Paterno and Spanier, both among the nation’s longest-serving college coaches or presidents, were fired, effective immediately. Earlier in the day, Paterno announced he would retire at the end of the season.