Penn State faces $2.4 million fine for mishandling Sandusky sex abuse case

Penn State faces $2.4 million fine for mishandling Sandusky sex abuse case

U.S. Department of Education proposes fine after finding the university did not comply with reporting requirements involving campus crime.

Penn State University is facing a record fine of nearly $2.4 million for violations related to sex offenses committed by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The U.S. Department of Education says it is seeking to impose the fine after concluding that Penn State failed to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The fine would be the largest ever assessed for Clery Act violations.

The department says it has found 11 serious instances of noncompliance related to Penn State's handling of Sandusky’s crimes and the university’s longstanding failure to comply with federal requirements on campus safety and substance abuse. Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing several young boys over multiple years, including several incidents on campus.

“For colleges and universities to be safe spaces for learning and self-development, institutions must ensure student safety – a part of which is being transparent about incidents on their campuses. Disclosing this information is the law,” says U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. “When we determine that an institution is not upholding this obligation, then there must be consequences.”

In the finding that resulted in the largest proposed fine, the department concluded that Penn State failed to properly classify reported incidents and disclose crime statistics from 2008 to 2011. The department is seeking a fine of $2,167,500 for that violation.

Under the Clery Act, colleges and universities must report every year the number of criminal offenses on campus. In addition, in certain cases, the institution must issue a timely warning if a reported crime represents a threat to the campus community. The institution also must have campus crime and security policies in a number of areas and disclose those polices to their students and employees.

Soon after Sandusky was indicted in November 2011, the education department launched an investigation that looked at the university’s compliance from 1998 to 2011.

The findings of the investigation:

  • Clery Act violations related to the Sandusky matter (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • 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).
  • Omitted and/or inadequate annual security report and annual fire safety report policy statements (proposed fine: $37,500).
  • Failure to issue timely warnings in accordance with federal regulations.
  • Failure to properly classify reported incidents and disclose crime statistics from 2008-2011 (proposed fine: $2,167,500).
  • Failure to establish an adequate system for collecting crime statistics from all required sources (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Failure to maintain an accurate and complete daily crime log.
  • 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).
  • Failure to publish and distribute an annual security report in accordance with federal regulations (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Failure to notify prospective students and employees of the availability of the annual security report and annual fire safety report (proposed fine: $27,500).
  • Failure to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (proposed fine: $27,500).
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