(NaturalNews) Millions of Americans have wondered aloud since news broke that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky molested young boys in the shower of the football complex how it could have happened over the years without the knowledge - and tacit consent - of the college's legendary head coach, Joe Paterno, and others associated with program.
Well, the answer is officially in: "Jo Pa," as he was once affectionately known, and some of Penn State's senior leaders did know of Sandusky's horrible, serial abuse, but displayed "total disregard" for the children he was victimizing.
That's the verdict from one-time FBI director and former federal judge Louis Freeh, who - along with a team of investigators he led - have just wrapped up a months-long investigation into allegations that Paterno & Co. may share culpability for what Sandusky was doing well out of the public's view.
Freeh and his team had "unfettered access" to the university during the investigation, according to the 267-page report released following the inquiry. They interviewed hundreds of people in a bid to learn how the university and its famed coach Paterno, who won two national titles with Sandusky, responded to the available warning signs.
"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh told reporters during a press conference this week. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."
Ignoring warning signs 'empowered' Sandusky
Said the report: "These men concealed Sandusky's activities from the Board of Trustees, the university community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.
"Further," the report continued, "they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child's identity, of what [receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Mike] McQueary saw in the shower the night of February 9, 2001."
Freeh's team went onto conclude that inaction by Paterno, his senior staff and the university "empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised" access to the university and its facilities, which provided him "with the very currency that enabled him to attract his victims."
The eight-month inquiry found that Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley, the university's vice president, Gary Schultz - who was in charge of the campus police department - and university president Graham Spaner "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest."
Sexual abuse of the children could have been prevented if university officials banned Sandusky from bringing them on the campus after a 1998 inquiry, said the report. But despite their knowledge of the police investigation into Sandusky showering with a boy in the football facility locker room, Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz took no action whatsoever to even limit Sandusky's access to camps, the report noted.
Paterno passes but victims remain
In May 1998, a woman lodged a complaint after her son came home with wet hair after showering with Sandusky, but it did not result in charges at the time. Freeh's report said Schultz was worried at the time that the matter would be akin to opening a "Pandora's box."
Finally, university officials did ban Sandusky from bringing children to the campus, but the damage was already done.
University officials' disregard for the children's well-being was "callous and shocking," Freeh said.
In comments to the Washington Post after news of the scandal broke, Paterno sounded a lame tone.
"I didn't know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was," he said. "So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way."
Paterno, a hall of fame coach, died of lung cancer in January. He was 85.