Thursday, November 10, 2011

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Client Alert: Penn State Sexual Abuse Scandal Highlights The Benefits To Institutions Of Retaining External Investigative Services The Penn State Athletic Department is in turmoil as a result of how the university and athletic department handled allegations of sexual abuse by an assistant football coach. Two Penn State officials, including the athletic director, have been charged with perjury and failing to report suspected sexual abuse. Newspapers are printing calls for the resignation of the University President and head football coach. If true, the allegations against the assistant coach are horrific and the victims deserve tremendous sympathy and support. The legal system will now have to run its course. At this early stage of the scandal, it is clear that the University’s internal staff and procedures were not equipped to handle these types of allegations. When the Institution faces potentially serious allegations, the use of internal staff, whether in the compliance office or otherwise, to undertake an investigation creates two problems: first, the use of internal staff may create the appearance of a conflict of interest because the staff is not independent from the Institution; second, internal staff may not have the resources or experience necessary to conduct thorough proactive monitoring or an investigation of serious allegations. In the coming weeks, Penn State will inevitably face criticism that the internal investigators and staff who were initially made aware of the allegations were more concerned with preserving the reputation or financial interests of the Institution. The general tone of this criticism may be that the Institution should not be “investigating itself” or “policing itself” and that any subsequent exoneration...

Joshua Adam Engel

Vice President and General Counsel, Lycurgus Group

The Typepad Team