Penn State Fined $2.4 Million for Violations of Clery Act

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Education levied a $2.4 million fine to Penn State University on Thursday under the Clery Act for its handling of on-campus criminal activity, specifically regarding former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. 

Charles Thompson of reported the fine is the largest in history levied under the Clery Act. The DOE found 11 “serious” acts of noncompliance tied to Sandusky and other compliance failures on campus. The Clery Act, passed in 1990, requires colleges and universities that receive government funding to disclose criminal activity on campus.

Sandusky, who served as a Penn State assistant coach from 1969 to 1999, was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse against children in 2012. He used his stature within the Penn State community and his Second Mile charity to prey on young boys for decades unabated.

An independent investigation run by former FBI director Louis Freeh found multiple Penn State officials culpable, most notably former head coach Joe Paterno. The coach and other university officials were made aware of potential abuse by Sandusky as early as 1998, and unsealed documents recently indicated Paterno could have known as early as 1976.

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Freeh wrote. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

The review period of the DOE investigation was from 1998 to 2011, the same as the Freeh report.

Mike McQueary, a former Penn State assistant coach who reported the 1998 act of abuse to Paterno, was awarded a $7.3 million judgment in a defamation suit against the university. Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz were charged with perjury after allegedly lying and saying McQueary did not inform them of abuse.

Curley, Schultz and former university President Graham Spanier are facing charges of failure to report suspected child abuse and endangering the welfare of children.

Penn State’s football program faced unprecedented punishments for its role in the scandal, though many were reduced or overturned in recent years.


Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.