A report commissioned by the family of Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach who died last year, said he was unfairly tarnished and implicated in the sexual abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant who was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys. The 238-page report was compiled by a team led by...
A report commissioned by the family of Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach who died last year, said he was unfairly tarnished and implicated in the sexual abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant who was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys.
The 238-page report, compiled by a team led by Richard Thornburgh, a former U.S. attorney general, and released Sunday, said an even larger investigation into the scandal by former FBI director Louis Freeh was “factually wrong, speculative and fundamentally flawed.”
In the Paterno family’s analysis, posted on the website paterno.com, Thornburgh was quoted as saying the Freeh report had “inaccurate and unfounded findings related to Mr. Paterno” and “was a rush to injustice and calls into question the credibility of the entire Report.”
According to the Thornburgh report, the Freeh inquiry, which was ordered by the Penn State board of trustees and released in July, falsely accused Paterno of helping to cover up Sandusky’s repeated abuse to shield the school from adverse publicity, and wrongly blamed the “football culture” at Penn State for helping foster Sandusky’s crimes.
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Unlike a legal proceeding, no one testified under oath and witnesses were allowed to speak anonymously in the Freeh report, which also failed to conduct interviews with “most of the key witnesses,” the Thornburgh report said, including the university’s top executives and Police Department as well as the district attorney’s office in Centre County, where Penn State is.
“Having never talked with these individuals, the Freeh report still claimed to know what they did and why they did it,” the Thornburgh report said.
Since Sandusky was arrested in late 2011, the Paterno family has been adamant Hall of Famer Paterno did not cover up Sandusky’s crimes and that he followed university protocol in 2001 when he reported the matter to his superiors.
The university fired Paterno soon after the scandal broke, driving a wedge through the Penn State community where the longtime coach had been a beloved figure. While many students and alumni stood by the coach and his family, the university removed a statue of Paterno. The NCAA later imposed punitive sanctions on the school and football program.
The Thornburgh report repeated many of the claims made by the family in the past. Freeh, who previously has declined to address criticisms of his report, issued a statement Sunday.
“I respect the right of the Paterno family to hire private lawyers and former government officials to conduct public media campaigns in an effort to shape the legacy of Joe Paterno,” Freeh said. “However, the self-serving report the Paterno family has issued today does not change the facts established in the Freeh report or alter the conclusions reached in the Freeh report.”
Freeh’s findings implicated Paterno and administrators Graham Spanier (former university president), Tim Curley (athletic director, who is suspended) and Gary Schultz (retired university vice president).
Freeh said, “I stand by our conclusion that four of the most powerful people at Penn State failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
Sandusky, 69, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in October after being convicted last summer of 45 criminal counts. Prosecutors said some assaults occurred in the football building.