Top officials at Penn State University showed "total and consistent disregard" for the well-being of the young victims of a pedophilia scandal, a damning internal investigation found Thursday.
The US college hired former FBI head Louis Freeh to conduct the eight-month probe into the sex abuse perpetrated by Jerry Sandusky, an assistant football coach at the school, who was convicted on pedophilia charges last month.
"They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and wellbeing," the Freeh report found.
He added the university seemed more concerned about avoiding "bad publicity" than assisting the victims in the explosive case, which shocked a nation that is passionate about its college sports.
Freeh conducted over 430 interviews of key university officials and staff and conducted an exhaustive review of emails, records and other documents.
In particular, the probe excoriated the university for failing to notify the proper authorities immediately when revelations first surfaced that Sandusky had engaged in improper behavior involving children.
"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare for Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh said in a press conference Thursday.
"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," he said.
The former top US law enforcement official said he hoped the scathing findings of his investigation would provide a measure of solace to the victims.
But the document also appeared to certain to provide powerful ammunition to victims and their families considering suing the university for negligence.
Penn State said in a statement that it would release a response to the 267 page report later Thursday.
"We want to ensure we are giving the report careful scrutiny and consideration before making any announcements or recommendations," it said.
"We are convening an internal team comprising the Board of Trustees, University administration and our legal counsel to begin analyzing the report and digesting Judge Freeh's findings."
Sandusky is in prison awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of molesting 10 boys over 15 years, recruiting victims under the guise of a program he ran for neglected youths.
Source: AFP American Edition