Monday, July 23, 2012

Lycurgus Group Statement on Penn State Report: Schools Must Recognize That They Sometimes Face Problems that Internal Staff are not Equipped to Handle The Report on the sexual abuse allegations at Penn State has underscored the fact that schools sometimes face athletics-related problems that internal staff and procedures are not equipped to handle. The Report illustrates the need for schools to be increasingly aware that internal investigations conducted by objectively credible people may be subject to conflict of interest criticism. While such criticism is often unfair -- institutions are unlikely to risk excellent reputations for any single student, faculty member, or staff member – it remains an avoidable fact. The problem at Penn State was not as simple as an institution cynically seeking to protect its own image. Instead, the challenge facing Penn State was the inability of the human beings who run the Institution from recognizing their own conflicts and limitations. One of the natural inclinations of an Institution is to focus more on the subject of the wrongdoing, not the wrongdoing itself. In this case, instead of focusing on the victims, the Penn State Administration focused on protecting the person accused of this misconduct. This focus is an inherent problem of large institutions, and is especially strong at schools with strong athletic cultures like Penn State. Because the athletic leaders are a symbol of a university, Penn State’s leaders may have felt a strong desire to protect their “home,” against external criticism. After Penn State, institutional administrators, like school presidents and athletic directors need to take a more dispassionate approach towards serious allegations of misconduct. One of the results of this...
Lycurgus Group Report on Harry Smith Murder Released by Family A report by the Lycurgus Group supports a family’s request that a state investigative agency take the lead in the investigation of the beating death of 89-year-old Harry Smith at his home in 2011. The report was released by Smith’s family. Various newspapers covered the release of the Lycurgus Group report, including the Columbus Dispatch and Channel 10. The report by the Lycurgus Group includes information about Smith’s death as well as interviews with witnesses and persons of interest. The rport also addressed the family's concerns about how the investigation was handled. According to media reports, the report notes different interviews, including two conducted in June of the two passersby who helped Smith’s family pull him from a fire at his home. Both witnesses said they never had been interviewed by the sheriff's office. Under recommendations, the report reads: "Lycurgus Group believes the investigation has not been handled properly by the Ross County Sheriff's Office. It appears there was an unreasonable delay in obtaining a cause of death from the Coroner's Office and a declaration that the fire likely was an arson from the State Fire Marshall. While this delay may not have been entirely the fault of the Sheriff's Office, the investigation did not reveal that the Sheriff's Office made significant efforts to resolve the delay." The Lycurgus Group report also said it thinks the case “cannot be solved nor will a successful prosecution be possible unless some internal processes are changed” and cautions that the recommendations were made...

Joshua Adam Engel

Vice President and General Counsel, Lycurgus Group

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