Penn State-The Freeh Report
July 18, 2012
Last Friday, Louis J. Freeh, the former Federal Judge and former director of the FBI issued his report after seven months of investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal that had brought about the resignation of the head football coach, Joe Paterno, the University president Graham Spanier, the University vice president, Gary Schultz and the athletic director, Tim Curley.
Mr. Freeh, in presenting the report said that the most senior officials of the University have shown a “total and consistent disregard” for the safety of children under their responsibility and protection. He said: “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children Sandusky victimized.” Last month Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 charges of sexual abuse of young boys for a 14-year period of time. He is awaiting sentencing and will most likely spend the rest of his life in jail. Mr. Freeh added that Penn State “never demonstrated through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims.”
How can one explain such a concerted, persistent and broad cover-up? Can it be partially explained by a misplaced loyalty?
Loyalty is a valuable attribute. Johann Kaspar Lavater, the 18th century German poet once wrote: “What do I owe to my times, to my country, to my neighbors, to my friends? Such are the questions which a virtuous man ought often to ask himself.”
Simon Keller of the University of Melbourne in his book “The Limits of Loyalty” asks a fundamental question: Can the requirement of loyalty conflict with the requirements of morality?
I believe that the cover-up of the Penn State scandal violated the laws of morality because it not only left some of the most vulnerable members of society (minors) unprotected from the actions of a criminal predator but also actually enabled him to commit further crimes.
In our legitimate pursuit of loyalty we should first determine who merits our allegiance and who does not.
Furthermore, we should determine what moral costs are involved in such allegiance. If the considered allegiance, (whether it be to an individual, family, an institution or even the government) involves the betrayal of some of our fundamental values, we should then ignore such loyalty and just do what we know is right.
As Ada Velez-Boardley once wrote:
”Loyalty is the pledge of truth to oneself and others.”