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Penn State trustees: 'We are ashamed'

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Penn State President Rodney Erickson opens a student town hall forum on April 17 to address student concerns. (Source: Patrick Mansell/Pennsylvania State University) Penn State President Rodney Erickson opens a student town hall forum on April 17 to address student concerns. (Source: Patrick Mansell/Pennsylvania State University)
Jerry Sandusky was admitted to the Centre County Correctional Facility after he was found guilty on 45 criminal charges. (Source: Centre County Correctional Facility) Jerry Sandusky was admitted to the Centre County Correctional Facility after he was found guilty on 45 criminal charges. (Source: Centre County Correctional Facility)

UNIVERISTY PARK, PA (RNN) - Pennsylvania State University's Board of Trustees expressed remorse Thursday for their failure to stop the cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's history of child sexual abuse.

"Our hearts are heavy and we are deeply ashamed," said Ken Frazier, the chairman of the Board of Trustees team investigating the Sandusky scandal.

The board addressed an independent report commissioned by the Trustees and led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson said a three-person committee would create a plan to take the nearly 120 recommendations from the Freeh report and turn it into policy, pending confirmation at a Friday board meeting.

Erickson said a plan is expected to be approved within the "next few weeks."

According to the report, the most powerful people at Penn State didn't feel they were accountable to the Board of Trustees, greatly undermining the group's power and placing some responsibility on them.

Despite a 1998 criminal investigation into allegations Sandusky had inappropriately showered with an 11-year-old boy on-campus, the Board didn't address rumors over Sandusky's behavior until May 2011.

At a May 12, 2011 board meeting, trustees were finally briefed on the allegations after a member of the board read a March 2011 article on the latest criminal investigation by the The Patriot-News and brought it to the attention of then-Penn State President Graham Spanier.

The report determined the Board only asked a few limited questions, placing most of their faith in Spanier rather than digging deeper.

"We failed to ask the tough questions," Frazier said. "We failed to push the issue."

Since charges were filed against Sandusky on Nov. 4, 2011, the Board of Trustees has actively sought to revamp its policies and procedures.

On Nov. 9, 2011, the board removed Spanier as president of the university and fired head football coach Joe Paterno, who knew of at least one incidence of Sandusky being indecent with a minor.

On Nov. 21, 2011, the board commissioned Freeh to launch an independent investigation into the scandal.

The board also has implemented some of the recommendations Freeh made in January, which were aimed at ensuring the school was as safe as possible for upcoming summer youth programs.

The university has revamped guidelines for people dealing with children at the school, and added enhanced background checks and abuse-awareness training.

Officials have also made the ethics hotline run by Penn State's Office of Internal Audit more prominent to staffers. It has begun a search for a full-time Clery Act compliance coordinator.

The act, which was signed into federal law in 1990, requires that crimes that occur on campus - including child sex abuse - are promptly documented and reported.

Investigators found at the time Sandusky was arrested that the school's plan for Clery Act implementation was still in draft form.

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