HARRISBURG—The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape supports the recommendations made to Pennsylvania State University today in the report released by former FBI director Louis Freeh and Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP.
We believe the recommendations are in line with the goals Penn State must establish to prevent or properly respond to issues of sexual abuse. PCAR, however, believes more can and should be done beyond the scope of the 119 recommendations that the Freeh report outlines. By fully examining its culture and procedures, the University can not only be safer for children but also for the students, faculty, staff, and volunteers all of whom can be victims of sexual abuse.
We understand that true change requires a cultural shift in thought process regarding sexual abuse—one that promotes and establishes responsible governances and oversight. Environmental and cultural components that allowed sexual assault to be permissible must be eliminated. Values and priorities must be clearly communicated and consistently reinforced.
We believe that a change in culture has already begun and will continue at Penn State.
Since PCAR and NSVRC formed a partnership with Penn State approximately six months ago, we have taken part in the beginning stages of this change. New procedures have been established. And more than 2,000 university staff members have been—or are scheduled to be—trained on the appropriate response to incidents of child sexual abuse and other forms of sexual assault. More initiatives are in the planning stages.
We are urging Penn State administration, the Board of Trustees and the university legal team to fully examine the entire continuum of sexual assault and establish guidelines to protect and treat all victims of sexual violence.
PCAR and NSVRC, like many in the community are sad, disappointed and angry at the lack of regard given to the victims of Jerry Sandusky by former university leaders. According to Freeh, “there were more red flags than can be counted” and there was “active concealment” by some. The priority placed on the reputation of the university and football program at the expense of child safety is disheartening.
We urge all adults that suspect child sexual abuse to call CHILDLINE at 1-800-932-0313 or visit www.heroproject.org to learn more about potential signs of abuse and how you can help prevent sexual abuse before someone is harmed.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is the oldest and largest state anti-sexual violence coalition in the U.S. The organization represents 50 sexual assault centers that serve the state’s 67 counties. Each year these centers provide confidential services, at no charge, to more than 30,000 men, women and children affected by sexual abuse.