Before anyone asks, we are NOT asserting that Arizona State University has some sort of child sex abuse scandal in the making–ie, Pennsylvania State. We are just illustrating parallels between Penn State’s administrative nightmare (following the public revelation that the university admin KNEW what was going on, but did nothing), and Arizona State University’s current admin situation. This is an extremely long, but informative read.
In 2011, a HUGE child sex abuse scandal implicating (former) Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky broke, and with it, there were several allegations the university had knowledge of the criminal acts in question and failed to act appropriately. For the purposes of this blog, we will be focusing specifically on the inappropriate or non-action on the part of Penn State University’s administration, and how these common denominators parallel the administrative problems currently transpiring at Arizona State University.
In 1998, an 11 year old victim told his mother he showered with Sandusky. The mother contacted Penn State University Police, and a subsequent investigation begins. Detectives in the case also discovered another victim in the case who has the same story as the initial victim. The case was closed after District Attorney Ray Gricar decided the case warranted no criminal charges. The investigating Detective tells the grand jury in this case that the head of PSUPD, told him to close the inquiry.
Prior to the Grand Jury investigation of the first victims’ allegations, in 2007, the then-vice president for student affairs, Vicky Triponey, resigned. She stated she had “philosophical differences with other leadership in student affairs and at the university in general“. Several weeks later, The Wall Street Journal reported that football coach Joe Paterno wanted to discipline his football players himself, effectively having his players not be subject to the student code of conduct. Paterno also threatened (former) Penn State University president Grahm Spanier that he wanted Triponey gone, and would stop fundraising for the school unless she was fired.
In 1999, Sandusky retires from PSU, but is still allowed access to campus facilities, including the locker room.
In 2002, an assistant coach, Mike McQueary, reported seeing Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy to Paterno; Paterno subsequently reported the information to PSU athletic director, Tim Curley. 10 days later, McQueary, Curley, and Gary Schultz (PSU Vice-President of Finance, which oversees the management of PSUPD) meet to discuss the allegations. No reports are made to law enforcement, and Curley and Schultz instruct Sandusky not to bring any children from his charity to PSU’s football building. This decision was approved by PSU President Spanier.
In 2008, a Grand Jury investigation is initiated. In 2010, McQueary testifies that he reported what he believed to be sexual activity between Sandusky and a young boy, and the reactions of the university administration to the situation. Curley and Schutlz denied they were informed of a sexual assault, but stated they understood the situation as “horseplay”.
In 2011, Schutlz and Curley were found to not be credible by the Grand Jury. Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kelly released a statement, saying, “…Those officials, to whom it was reported, did not report the incident to law enforcement or any child protective agency, and their inaction likely allowed a child predator to continue to victimize children for many more years….If we are to enforce the law and protect our citizens, and in this case our children, we cannot condone under the law the actions of those who make false statements to a grand jury, regardless of the positions they hold, particularly when they involve serious matters of great importance.”
(In 2011, Spanier resigned as PSU President and later was formally charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and endangering the welfare of children; Both Schultz and Curley were later charged with perjury, child endangerment, obstruction of justice and conspiracy ).
After this scandal broke, in 2011 PSU was investigated by The Department of Education to assess the university’s compliance with crime reported as required by the Clery Act. If federal investigators determine PSU wasn’t following protocols, PSU could face severe financial sanctions. Although the initial results of the investigation were released to PSU, the findings have not yet become available to the public.
A subsequent investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freesh stated there were several points PSU officials could have stopped Sandusky’s abusive actions, and instead, did nothing. Freesh stated, “There were more red flags here than you could count over a long period of time”.
Parallels between PSU’s scandal and ASU’s plight
While not as horrific nor as publicized at the scandals at Penn State University, Arizona State University seems to have engaged in a similiar pattern of behavior that could send it down the same perverted path carved by PSU.
Alan Clark, ASUPD’s former Assistant Chief has had MULTIPLE sexual harassment complaints lodged against him by members of ASUPD, including an investigation conducted by DPS on Clark’s behavior. Instead of taking action to prevent Clark from further engaging in sexually harassing behavior, ASUPD Chief Pickens holds on to the results of the investigation for a year, then allows Clark to retire from his AC position for another position in the university. Clark STILL has access to the police department, much like Sandusky was allowed to have access to the very locker rooms at PSU where he perpetrated his crimes.
Multiple allegations of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, records tampering, as well as hostile work environment claims committed by members of ASUPD (among others) were brought to the attention of either ASUPD command staff, and/or Chief Pickens, both in a formal and informal situation. It is so pervasive that these issues were addressed directly to Pickens at his employee Advisory Board. Even directly stating these specific issues to Pickens himself have resulted in NO ACTION; these allegations of wrongdoing have yet to be formally investigated by the department as of this writing.
In the situation at PSU, upper-level administrators were informed of the acts perpetrated by Sandusky, who elected to do nothing about the situation, as not to draw negative attention to the university. Similarly, several ASUPD employees and administrators have informed ASU’s Vice President of Finance, Morgan Olsen of the gravity of the situation that exists at ASUPD. Olsen’s eventual response (months after being informed) we postulate has little to do with caring about the concerns of his employees, and everything to do with the pressure Michael Crow, ASU’s President, has put on him to minimize negative attention to the university.
ASU’s Head of Human Resources Kevin Salcido was dispatched to investigate the merits of claims made against ASUPD by members of the department; however, it appears that Salcido has engaged in an “investigation” primarily to give the impression to those outside of the university that ASU is “taking care of the problem”. In reality, a full blown investigation would entail actually interviewing those who claim to be victims of systemic mistreatment at the hands of ASUPD. What this “investigation” has amounted to at this point is Salcido discussing some “issues” with upper-ranking members of ASUPD who have either no idea of the gravity of the situation, or know only one tiny iota of the problems the department is facing. Therefore, the seriousness with which Salcido’s office is handling this investigation has yet to be seen. Michael Crow has also been kept abreast of the situation at ASUPD by his people, but the degree to which he is informed is unknown.
Just like PSU, ASU’s upper-level administrators have been informed of the situation that is currently transpiring within ASUPD. However, here is where the stories of both Penn State and Arizona State are at a crossroads: will ASU go down the same path as PSU by letting the situation deteriorate further, only to feign ignorance when facing possible criminal charges? Or will ASU learn from the mistakes PSU made and decide to rectify the systemic failures of its police department, while there is still time?
We don’t know the answer to this question. The breadth of these problems go beyond what is happening at the PD level and are manifesting themselves into university wide problems; therefore, a significant and genuine undertaking by ASU’s administration must transpire, or else the issues discussed here will require the intervention of the state and federal government.