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Penn State faces $2.4M fine for violations related to Sandusky case

"Regrettably we cannot change the past," the school replied Thursday.

By Doug G. Ware
The Pennsylvania State University is facing a fine of $2.4 million by the U.S. Department of Education for violations government investigators said they found related to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. Education officials cited 11 serious violations of the Clery Act, which requires most universities to log and report crimes committed on or near campus. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
The Pennsylvania State University is facing a fine of $2.4 million by the U.S. Department of Education for violations government investigators said they found related to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. Education officials cited 11 serious violations of the Clery Act, which requires most universities to log and report crimes committed on or near campus. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A week after The Pennsylvania State University lost a defamation lawsuit from a former football assistant, the school learned Thursday it faces a fine of nearly $2.5 million by the federal government for violations related to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse saga.

The U.S. Department of Education announced that it's seeking to levy a penalty of $2.4 million against Penn State after a thorough review of the Sandusky case.

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"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," Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said in a statement Thursday. "When we determine that an institution is not upholding this obligation, then there must be consequences."

RELATED Oct. 27: Ex-Penn State assistant football coach wins $7.3M defamation suit

Investigators said the university failed to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990 -- a federal mandate that requires schools that participate in financial assistance programs to log and report crimes that occur on and near campus.

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Under the Clery Act, the department can fine institutions that don't comply up to $35,000 for each violation.

Education officials said they found 11 serious violations, including:

- Failure to properly classify reported incidents and disclose crime statistics from 2008-2011 (this violation alone brought a $2.1M penalty)
- Failure to issue timely warnings in accordance with federal regulations
- Failure to maintain an accurate and complete daily crime log
- Failure to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act
- Lack of administrative capability as a result of the University's substantial failures to comply with the Clery Act

The department said it decided on the penalties after a comprehensive review and evaluating a response from the university. It detailed the violations in a 35-page letter to school administrators.

The proposed fine is, by far, the largest ever issued by the Education Department for a Clery Act violation. The previous record was $357,500.

RELATED 'Disgusting and dirty': Sandusky denies molestation charges in appeal

Sandusky, 72, a former assistant football coach, was convicted on child sex assault charges in 2012 and sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.

Last week, former assistant Mike McQueary won a civil defamation lawsuit against the school and was awarded $7.3 million.

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"While regrettably we cannot change the past, today the University has been recognized for significantly strengthening our programs since 2011," the school said in a statement reported by NBC News. "The safety and security of our University community is a top priority and we are dedicated to full compliance with the Clery Act and the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act. Today, Penn State has robust Clery training and collection processes in place."

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