President shares message regarding release of court documents

July 12, 2016

Penn State President Eric Barron has shared a message with the University community regarding the release of information by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The information includes formerly sealed testimony by alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky. "Penn State's overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky," Barron wrote.

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Today, information is being released by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas related to a lawsuit between Penn State and its insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. For its part, the University does not plan to provide additional comment on these matters, as this information has largely already been covered by media.

Penn State’s overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky. While individuals hold different opinions, and may draw different inferences from the testimony about former Penn State employees, speculation by Penn State is not useful. We must be sensitive to all individuals involved, and especially to those who may be victims of child sexual abuse. It also makes it much more difficult for Penn State to create an environment where victims of sexual abuse feel comfortable coming forward and where students, faculty and staff feel protected in reporting wrongdoing.

Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves.

Speculation also serves to drive a wedge within the Penn State community. I would ask that we remember our University’s primary mission is to focus on research, education and service. Let's be respectful of other viewpoints and focus on our mission. The University is committed to ensuring our campuses are safe for children, and to ongoing prevention and education programs and research that contribute to a better society.

I want to thank our Penn State community for caring so deeply about not only our university during these difficult times, but also for the victims of child abuse.

Eric J. Barron
President

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In the past five years, Penn State has enacted a multitude of reforms focused on fighting child abuse, sexual misconduct, and unethical actions, and has introduced best practices in governance, management and compliance.

These include, but are not limited to, the following:

-- Since 2013, nearly 29,400 people have participated in Clery Act training. The Clery Act is a federal law related to campus safety.

-- The establishment of the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being, with the goal of advancing knowledge, practice, education and outreach to combat child abuse.

-- Creation of the Center for Protection of Children at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. The over-arching purpose of the Center for the Protection of Children is to develop and coordinate research, education and policy initiatives having to do with child abuse/protection – within Penn State Hershey, Penn State's broader Network on Child Protection and Wellbeing, as well as with community partners.

-- The institution of a new administrative policy, AD-72, "Reporting Suspected Child Abuse," to provide guidance to University employees regarding mandated reporting requirements according to the University and the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.

-- Development of an online “Reporting Child Abuse” training required for new employees, and current employees. Employees who work with children are required to take the training annually; all others are required to take the training every three years. In 2015, 45,646 individuals took the training, including employees, volunteers and students.

-- Created a national conference on child sexual abuse. The inaugural conference was held Oct. 28-30, 2012, and is held annually.

-- Created an Office of Ethics and Compliance, and the Ethics and Compliance Council to coordinate, integrate and oversee all University compliance functions.

-- Hired an athletics integrity officer and changed the reporting line of the University’s athletics compliance office to the director of ethics and compliance rather than the athletic director.

-- Enacted a formal policy review process that resulted in the creation or revision of policies and procedures regarding youth protection, facility security, reporting potential wrongdoing, anti-retaliation, discrimination and sexual harassment, employee background checks, and institutional financial conflicts of interest and board conflicts of interest.

-- Developed comprehensive compliance and ethics training and education programs.

-- Developed and implemented a comprehensive action plan to ensure compliance with Title IX requirements and to address a national concern about sexual assault on campuses.

-- Undertook a University-wide effort to promote a “see something, say something” climate and to enforce the University’s anti-retaliation policy.

-- Instituted a series of policies to correct and promote appropriate conduct (Policy AD88: Code of Responsible Conduct; Policy AD67: Disclosure of Wrongful Conduct and Protection from Retaliation; Policy AD83: Institutional Financial Conflict of Interest; Policy HR101: Positions Requiring National Search Process; Policy AD86: Acceptance of Gifts and Entertainment; Policy AD89: University Export Compliance Policy; andPolicy AD53: Privacy Statement)

-- Enhanced employee clearances. All employees and volunteers who have direct contact with children — the care, supervision, guidance or routine interaction with children —are required to obtain the following clearances: 

  • Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Background Check (SP4-164)
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance Form (CY-113)
  • Federal (FBI) Fingerprint Criminal Background Check (Criminal History Report)

Since January 2015, the number of individuals undergoing these clearances include 11,677 employees and 5,316 volunteers.

-- All other employees are required to obtain a standard background check that must be completed prior to the first day of work/engagement with the University. Since 2011, 98,524 employees have received the background check.

-- Created a new position, youth programs compliance specialist, to oversee University policies and procedures focused on the protection of children who participate in youth programs at Penn State.

-- Created a centralized database of all programs, services and events involving youth at Penn State.

-- Established a Youth Program Council to focus on developing resources and establishing standardized processes for all individuals involved with youth programming across the University.

Last Updated July 12, 2016