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U.S. Department of Education said it was still examining whether Penn State violated the Clery Act, but the agency declined to comment on Mr. Freeh’s report.

Mary Krupa, an 18-year-old Penn State freshman who grew up in State College, said the conclusion that the school’s highest officials were derelict in protecting children didn’t shake her love of the town or the school.

“The actions of five or six people don’t reflect on the hundreds of thousands” of students and faculty who make up the Penn State community, she said while walking through the student union building on campus.

Mr. Freeh said he regretted the damage the findings would do to Paterno’s “terrific legacy” but there was no attempt to pin the blame on the late coach.

“What my report says is what the evidence and the facts show,” he said.

Christian Beveridge, a masonry worker who grew up near Penn State, said the findings will ruin Paterno’s legacy but not the closeness that people in town and fans feel for him.

“He built this town,” said Mr. Beveridge, 40, resting in the shade on campus during a break. “All of his victories, he’ll be remembered by everyone in town for a long time, but there will be that hesitation.”

Genaro C. Armas reported from Scranton, Pa., and Mark Scolforo from Harrisburg, Pa. Marc Levy in State College, Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia and Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.