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The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Misconduct at Penn State

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On November 4, 2011, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania filed criminal charges against Jerry Sandusky that included multiple counts of child molestation. Several of the offenses occurred between 1998 and 2002, during which time Sandusky was the Defensive Coordinator for the Penn State University football team with unrestricted access to the University’s football facilities. On June 22, 2012, a jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of the criminal charges against him.

In the days and weeks surrounding the announcement of the charges, the University’s Board of Trustees struggled to decide how to respond to the scandal. On November 11, 2011, the Trustees appointed a Special Investigations Task Force under the direction of Special Investigative Counsel and former FBI director Louis Freeh to perform an independent, full and complete investigation. The Special Investigative Counsel was asked to provide recommendations regarding University governance, oversight, and administrative policies and procedures that will better enable the University to prevent and more effectively respond to incidents of sexual abuse of minors in the future.

The Task Force issued its final report in July of 2012. The report contained 120 recommendations to assist University administrators, faculty, staff and the Board, in improving how they govern and provide protection for children in University facilities and programs. The Task Force, which included former federal prosecutors and FBI agents, represents the most competent and professional body ever assembled to formulate risk management strategies to reduce the risk of child molestation in child-serving charities. Attorneys representing victims of child molestation will almost certainly cite the findings of the Task Force as they attempt to demonstrate negligence on the part of churches, schools, and other youth-serving charities for not implementing or updating procedures to adequately protect minors. For this reason, it is important for church leaders to be familiar with the Task Force's recommendations, and to use them in implementing, or revising, appropriate procedures and safeguards. The recommendations with special relevance to churches will be the focus of a live video stream on Tuesday, August 28. See the banner below for details.

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