Penn State University board of trustees candidate calls blocking of Freeh contract 'despicable'
A candidate for the Penn State University board of trustees is continuing his crusade for records that state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis says he doesn't have about the Louis Freeh investigation of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
“There's a ton of questions remaining about the conduct of Penn State officials and how they led the university over the last year,” said Ryan Bagwell, a former reporter who lives near Madison, Wis. “This is not just a Penn State issue. ... It's despicable conduct for state officials to deny access to public records.”
Tomalis, who sits on Penn State's board, was vice chairman of the Special Investigative Committee that hired Freeh's law firm to investigate the scandal. Bagwell has been battling for five months to obtain copies of Penn State's contract with Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, the firm that conducted the $6.5 million investigation.
The Department of Education went to court last week to try to block that effort.
“To date, the Department of Education has received five separate Right-to-Know requests from Mr. Bagwell in search of contracts and other agreements related to the law firm of Freeh, Sporkin and Sullivan,” said Timothy Eller, spokesman for the Education Department. “The department has responded to these requests and Secretary Tomalis has signed four affidavits attesting that he does not possess these records.”
After the department denied three Right-to-Know Law requests on grounds they weren't “sufficiently specific,” Bagwell, a 2002 Penn State graduate, appealed to the state Office of Open Records, which ordered the release of the documents.
Attorneys for the Department of Education asked Commonwealth Court to reverse the agency's order and deny Bagwell's request.
“The department is fighting awfully hard to block access to records it claims it doesn't have,” Bagwell said.
In a Jan. 28 letter to Bagwell, Tomalis said a “reasonable search” found no such records in his possession, custody or control.
“It is understood that this does not mean they do not exist under another spelling, another name or under another classification,” the letter said.
The Freeh Report suggested a conspiracy among deposed university President Graham Spanier, suspended athletic director Tim Curley, former administrator Gary Schultz, 63, and the longtime coach Joe Paterno to cover up the 1998 and 2001 incidents in which Sandusky was reported to have showered with young boys in university athletic facilities.
A Centre County jury in June convicted Sandusky, 68, of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period, often inside Penn State athletic facilities. A judge sentenced him last month to 30 to 60 years in state prison.
Prosecutors charged Spanier, 64, of State College with five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, endangering the welfare of children and failure to report abuse. Curley and Schultz are charged with lying to a grand jury.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- As House looks to dismantle state stores, hybrid system might be option
- Pa. Senate approves ‘paycheck protection’ constitutional amendment
- Liquor privatization bill clears Pennsylvania House panel
- ‘Tipping point’ near for Pa. government, conservative expert predicts at Freedom Forum
- Cochranton farm specializes in growing out-of-season vegetables
- Husband charged in ax murder of wife hangs himself in cell