Pennsylvania State University on Monday named former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh to lead its investigation into the people, policies, and campus culture that may have enabled former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky to molest young boys on campus and on team trips.
Freeh, 61, said he would assemble a team of ex-prosecutors and agents to undertake the review.
Its primary goal, Freeh said, will be to recommend steps the university can take "to rectify such failure of leadership and control of environment in Penn State that allowed anyone to prey on children with impunity."
His hiring marked the latest step in the school's effort to repair its reputation since Sandusky was charged Nov. 5 with molesting eight boys over more than a decade. Sandusky has denied any wrongdoing.
The board of trustees fired longtime coach Joe Paterno and president Graham B. Spanier and pledged a thorough investigation after Sandusky's arrest.
Still, critics have been skeptical of the school's ability to police itself, citing the grand jury report that said university police, janitors, and ranking school officials missed or ignored clues about Sandusky's conduct.
That report said Paterno and Spanier allegedly failed to tell law enforcement that a Penn State graduate coaching assistant reported seeing Sandusky rape a boy in a locker-room shower in 2002. Two former university administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, face perjury charges for allegedly lying to the grand jury about the incident.
Last week, Penn State's faculty senate passed a resolution urging trustees to cede their probe to outsiders.
That's one reason the board turned to Freeh, a former judge and prosecutor who ran the FBI from 1993 to 2001.
"We picked Judge Freeh in large part because he has no connections to the university," said Kenneth Frazier, a Merck executive and chairman of the special trustee committee overseeing the investigation. "In fact, he has no connections to Pennsylvania to speak of. So we have someone who can make a report on wherever the evidence leads."
Besides Frazier, the committee includes five other trustees, a graduate student, a faculty member, and alumnus Guion Bluford Jr., a retired Air Force colonel and astronaut.
Theirs is one of at least six investigations sparked by the case.
Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and two other senators on Monday announced plans for a Dec. 13 hearing exploring how the nation protects children from abuse and neglect. The hearing will occur before a panel of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
And the education association that accredits colleges and universities on Monday joined the list of other groups reviewing actions by Penn State officials. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, whose accreditation helps universities get federal student grants, asked Penn State to deliver a report by Jan. 2 showing that its handling of the Sandusky allegations did not violate commission standards.
"Whenever the Commission becomes aware of something out of the ordinary at one of the institutions it accredits, it typically writes to the institution for clarification and additional information," spokesman Richard J. Pokrass wrote in an e-mail.
Already under way are similar examinations by the U.S. Education Department, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, state lawmakers, and the Second Mile, the charity for underprivileged children where prosecutors say Sandusky met and targeted his victims.
Freeh agreed late last week to lead the trustees' investigation, he said. He and Frazier announced his role at a morning news conference at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.
Frazier said the location was convenient for Freeh, whose law firm has offices in Washington, New York, and Wilmington.
Freeh offered no timetable for completing his investigation or delivering a report, but said it would be public. He and Frazier declined to say how much he or his law firm - Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan - would be paid.
Frazier said the trustees did not discuss the costs before hiring the former FBI director.
"It's important to recognize that we're at the very outset of this investigation," he said, "and what we pledged is to go as far as we need to uncover the facts."
Freeh said his investigators will look at records and incidents back to 1975, two years before Sandusky formed the Second Mile, although he didn't explain the significance of the date.
In particular, he said, the team will review university policies, procedures, compliance, and internal controls related to identifying and reporting sex crimes.
He also announced an e-mail address - PSUhelp@freehgroup.com - and a telephone tip-line, 855-290-3382, for witnesses to report information. He said that his probe wouldn't interfere with the criminal investigation into Sandusky that but he expected to work cooperatively with those agencies.
"Being on the law enforcement side of this, there are many parts of what they can do that can be shared," he said.
Freeh said he discussed the case Sunday night with state Attorney General Linda Kelly and pledged to immediately turn over any evidence of crime to law enforcement.
A spokesman for Kelly said investigators welcomed any assistance.
"All of the entities that have been in touch with us have gone out of their way to make it clear that they're not going to intervene with an ongoing criminal investigation," said the spokesman, Nils Frederickson.
He said witnesses may also call state police investigators at 814-470-2238 or prosecutors at 814-863-1053.
Speaking to reporters at the Pennsylvania Press Club, Gov. Corbett, who sits on the Penn State board of trustees, praised Freeh's hiring.
"He understands the role of a grand jury and the role of prosecutors," said Corbett, who as state attorney general supervised the investigation into Sandusky.
Inquirer staff writers Jeremy Roebuck and Amy Worden contributed to this article.