U.S. Dept of Edu Fines Penn State re: Sexual Misconduct Incidents

The U.S. Department of Education issued a press release on November 3, 2016 that they have fined Penn State University $2.4 million for failure to comply with the Clery Act. As a point of reference,according to the report in 2014-2015, Penn State received $566,403,413 in federal dollars through the a variety of loan, grant, and work study programs, so the fine, while being an important statement, it is less than 1% of the entire federal funding for one school year (and the abuse occurred from 1998 to 2011).

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal consumer protection statute that provides students, parents, employees, prospective students and employees, and the public with important information about public safety issues on college campuses. Essentially it is an act that requires schools to report the most serious crimes against people or property so that students looking into attending a school and see how safe the school is.

The penalty covers 11 serious findings of Clery Act noncompliance related to the University’s handling of Sandusky’s crimes and the university’s longstanding failure to comply with federal requirements on campus safety and substance abuse.

The findings from the press release are:

Findings:

  • Finding #1:  Clery Act violations related to the Sandusky matter (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Finding #2:  Lack of administrative capability as a result of the University’s substantial failures to comply with the Clery Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act throughout the review period, including insufficient training, support, and resources to ensure compliance (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Finding #3:  Omitted and/or inadequate annual security report and annual fire safety report policy statements (proposed fine: $37,500).
  • Finding #4:  Failure to issue timely warnings in accordance with federal regulations.
  • Finding #5:  Failure to properly classify reported incidents and disclose crime statistics from 2008-2011 (proposed fine: $2,167,500).
  • Finding #6:  Failure to establish an adequate system for collecting crime statistics from all required sources (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Finding #7:  Failure to maintain an accurate and complete daily crime log.
  • Finding #8:  Reporting discrepancies in crime statistics published in the annual security report and those reported to the department’s campus crime statistics database (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Finding #9:   Failure to publish and distribute an annual security report in accordance with federal regulations (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Finding #10: Failure to notify prospective students and employees of the availability of the annual security report and annual fire safety report (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Finding #11: Failure to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (proposed fine: $27,500).

A complete report can be found here. According to the report, the charges against Sandusky included more than 50 felonies, including multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, and unlawful contact with minors as well as as charges for corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor. The report also noted, that two other people were charged, Timothy Curley and Gary Schultz for failing to to report allegations against Sandusky to law enforcement and CPS and perjury before the Grand Jury.

Another interesting pull-out from the report:

Data compiled by the University’s Office of Student Conduct showed that during the 2002 – 2003 academic year student-athletes represented 1.6% of the student body but were responsible for 5.16% of conduct code violations. The figures were similar in 20032004 where athletes were 1.5% of the student body but committed 3.05% of all violations. In 2004-2005, athletes were 1.82% of the student body and counted for 3.51% of all charges. Of particular concern, in 2003- 2004, student-athletes were charged with 9.38% of all physical assaults while only accounting for 1.5% of the student body and 17.78% of all such violations in 2004-2005 when they only represented 1.82% of all students. Athletes were also cited for sexual assault at a higher rate than the general population accounting for 50% of sexual assault charges in 2002-2003 and 20% of those offenses in 2004-2005. A similar pattern was observed for charges of disorderly conduct and alcohol-related offenses during this period. In most years through 2010-2011, the football team also had the most drug and alcohol citations of any Penn State sports program. 6

The report goes on and provides a detailed review of the culture and issues at Penn State and details on each Clery Act violation.