Are ASUPD’s problems morphing into a Penn State-sized scandal?

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.


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13 thoughts on “Are ASUPD’s problems morphing into a Penn State-sized scandal?

  1. RUkiddingMe says:

    Stories, comparisons like this are good, they show the pot that the kettle is also black. I’m starting to believe the chief, ASU management above him, come from a generation of officials where turning a blind eye to the wrongs of your cronies is just doing business. The raw fiber of corruption.

    I can’t believe the chief didn’t know about all these issues for so many years, if he did why don’t he hold his subordinates responsible for keeping the issues from him? Why not hold them responsible for mismanagement issues? There’s more accountability in McDonald’s burger slinging management than at ASUPD. There’s no good excuse for not knowing about all these issues in such a small organization.

    It doesn’t appear that any meaningful change is going to happen from within the University system. The titanic sized egos devoid of humility can never admit anything is out of order, that anything wrong happened under their watch, or see things from other subservient perspectives.

    The truth is the truth no matter how much denial our university/state officials want to believe otherwise. The city managers of Tempe, the MCSO, understand the issues of our derelict police department better because they are dealing with the overflow.

    The fact is most ASUPD employees present and past acknowledge the police department could be a great place to work if there were a lot of changes, changes that are unlikely to happen. The problems are related to leadership personnel who continue working against the department they are supposed to support.

    Most of us of are unimpressed with the University’s lack of a response to these issues, so we’re leaving. It’s not a one of two game anymore, we’re all in this together and it’s a win win. Relaxed by that? Don’t be, the word will get out, appeals will be made outside the University until lessons are taught and learned about the meaning of principal. Think we are quitting? No way.

  2. PSU Truth says:

    I am sorry to read of ASU’s troubles. Unfortunately you are quite misinformed about PSU. The analogy does not hold at all. Please refer to notpsu.blogspot for the facts. But having said that, also learn from our mistakes. If your PD is unresponsive, look higher up. And follow the money. In our case, it led all the way to the governor’s mansion and beyond. Our own board of trustees sold the truth down the river. Good luck!

    • theintegrityreport says:

      How are we wrong about statements made about PSU? The information we cited was from major media outlets reporting on the facts. Our primary focus for this piece wasn’t the despicable actions perpetrated by Sandusky, but rather the reaction by PSU administration.

      We’ve looked (briefly) at your blog and see you have issues with the integrity of the Freesh investigation; is there something else in this post you disagree with?

    • Nellie R says:

      This reply is not to the OP, but to the respondent. If you simply referred to “news media” reports, you do not have the facts in this case. Also, you do not seem to know that there are trials still pending, and the administrators are innocent until proven guilty in our country’s system of law, something the sports media “suddenly” and most recently remembered to include when writing about the Jameis Winston case. It would be more responsible of you to read the actual cases, there are five or more still going on, as well as the materials presented at The admistrator case pre-trial hearing begins on Tuesday December 17th in Dauphion County PA. All information has been provided at the Dauphin County and Center county PA websites since the beginning. As far as the Freeh report, it has been deemed not credible by many, including but not limited to former US Attorney General Dick Thornbrough. The body of the report simply does not support the “conclusions” made in his grandstanding press conference, as anyone who bothered to read it can see. This case is not and never has been about PSU or the football team. Follow the money.

    • theintegrityreport says:

      Sir: we’re looking at one tiny slice of the pie as reported by the news outlets. We know they’re not all-inclusive (logistically recounting them all would be impossible), and we’re acutely aware those mentioned here are innocent until proven guilty. We didn’t cite any of the Freeh investigation, only a quote from him about the situation. We’re not trying to determine innocence or guilt of these PSU officials (we know these cases are ongoing), we’re drawing parallels between major facts already asserted [as a result of Grand Jury questioning] about administrative response to Penn State University and the situation at Arizona State University. That’s it. We’re attempting to follow the extremely convoluted money trail at ASU, but unfortunately, ASU’s officials are dragging their feet in response to our public records request.

    • Nellie R says:

      I truly wish you luck with your open records requests. You might want to consult with PSU alum Ryan Bagwell who has, after two years of fighting in court, begun to win on that front. The only entity left fighting him? The University. He has had to establish a fund to be able to continue the fight.

      However, what people are taking umbrage with are the many things contained in this article that have been revealed to be false. For just one example of many, the whole thing about insinuating Paterno was somehow solely responsible for Vicky Triponey’s departure is blatantly false. What she was trying to do was add on additional punishments to athletes who were already being punished that she was not also applying to the regular student population when they had a violation.

      It was not the first time a school has asked her to leave. Read about UConn. It was simply the end of a very long list of complaints from NON-athlete students at PSU most of which you can read here:

    • ComeOnNow says:

      I hate to say I told you so, but this is what I have been talking about. Once one aspect of the blog is determined to be false, outside people diminish the validity of the entire thing, whether rightly or wrongly.

      This is why I made the simple suggestion to stick to first hand accounts . It’s the only way to ensure that everything posted is 100% true.

    • theintegrityreport says:

      What has been determined to be false? The assertions of facts here? Yes, they’re being dissected on a minute level by PSU folks (who have been focusing solely on PSU’s issues…we’re coming from two different perspectives but their insight is valued nonetheless), but they still hold water. We cited our sources, Comeonnow, perhaps you should read them. And stick to first hand accounts? This goes beyond a “he did this, she did that”; in case you missed them, we cited those also in the text. Feel free to interject with something that has relevance.

      Maybe you should reflect on this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people”.

  3. Supervisor Facepalm says:

    The comparison of PSU with ASU is relevant, it depends on your perspective, and it’s relative. All the details are not going to be the same, how could they be? There are similarities in this case and here’s why.

    You have two big universities filled with administrative officials who think they answer only to themselves, who seek to keep every breaking negative story out of the public spotlight, and won’t fix problems at their universities they are aware of.

    Both universities have university police departments that are unable to do what’s right, do their jobs, because they share a conflict of interest with University administrations.

    Instead both universities engage in sweeping everything under the rug, making outright lies and excuses for how things are going, and continue ignoring problems that could save lives for no good reason. Image, pride, vanity, these are not good reasons.

    Both universities continue down wrong and reckless paths until an outside governing entity intervenes and corrects them, which has yet to happen at ASU. Given what’s happened unchecked at the ASU Police Department for years it’s only a matter of time before the correction comes. When it does there will be all sorts of people saying, “I told you so.” or “I knew it.”

  4. DL500unit says:

    I find it strange people can say you can’t compare something when they know nothing of your side of the issue, as if their experience trumps another person’s simply because it happened to them or all the details aren’t photocopy identical.

    This is a simple comparison with University staff management and how they can’t seem to tell the truth or fix internal problems without overwhelming outside intervention. At Penn State horrific crimes against children brought public outcry and accountability.

    What tragedy will have to occur at ASU for them to examine and correct their dysfunctional police department? Who knows, but the sad thing is nobody in University management seems to be proactive unless prodded along by the outside. The Penn state stuff has been in the press to the max, the ASU issues not as much.

    People are seeing the symptoms of the illness ASU suffers from by being a flagship university with a broke down hollowed out shell of a police department. Very few people outside the ASU community know how things operate here forcing a reactive smoke and mirrors approach when a solid foundation of proactive policing would make all the difference for this community. Nobody notices a few fatalities here and there throughout the year when people get out of control, public ADD memory fades quickly.

    Would they be so inclined to party all year like there’s no tomorrow and set up drug factories if our department could go out and do it’s job instead of hoping nothing big happens because we don’t have enough people to respond?

  5. Captain Obvious says:

    Are they though? I think ASUPD’s problems are being ignored wholesale. Eventually something big will happen and this will all be examined when the “How could this happen?” questions start. You have a whole slew of people up the chain beyond the president of ASU who exclusively police themselves and have no intention of acknowledging any mistakes or issues. Employees who disagree are ignored as, “a few disgruntled people.” and their credibility is ignored, undermined, and discarded like yesterday’s news.

    Anyone who thinks for a moment that change will happen is delusional. Think I’m wrong? Look what had to happen at Penn State for some measure of accountability to happen. Look what had to happen at Arizona CPS. Look at the majority of people in our workplace that talk themselves blue in the face in private about the evils they witness and stand by, silent, scared to even post anonymously. In the end we are standing against a bunch of out of touch highly paid ego driven control freaks who act as if they were ordained by god to rule the simple folk.

    They couldn’t possibly understand how we feel about issues they distanced themselves from for their own survival. In short it’s a tow the line or get dragged under it workplace, people forget the meaning of public and their obligation to the public unless they are working hand in hand with them. It’s an injustice, but also a predictable law of averages, the lowest common denominator of psychology in leadership.

  6. Justanotherdispensible50 says:

    The general consensus is the big scandal will come when something big happens and we’re not prepared as usual to handle it. When the public, the news, freaks out, starts asking questions, demanding answers, and find out how negligent this place was run leading to whatever disaster happens.

    This is unfortunate, entirely preventable, and if nothing is done I hope lawyers, government officials, use this blog and many other means at their disposal to get justice for the victims. They will see ASU management knew of the issues, ASUPD management knew of the issues, and they didn’t fix the police department?!? Bingo…$$$

  7. popo39machine says:

    The Penn State scumbags covering for child molesters are innocent till proven guilty, ok, but from what I have seen the comparison here is about university administrations being contemptuous over issues below them that might make the press, might make the University look bad.

    If they would have been proactive in addressing problems responsibility as they happened instead of covering up, down playing, or lying then it would have been little news blurbs instead of front page news and scandal.

    From my ground floor perspective ASU is heading down the same path of ignoring internal problems affecting the little people, simple folk not in their ivory towers, and that’s a shame. We’re all Americans now matter how much money we make or little power we have. That should be the spirit of the New American University. If it isn’t then I suggest we go back to the Old American University without all the chairman Mao neo-communist no worker rights crap.

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