February 11, 2013

Paterno family describes 'rush to injustice'

The family disputes a report that the late coach hid sex-abuse allegations against his assistant, Jerry Sandusky.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Joe Paterno, Susan Paterno
click image to enlarge

Joe Paterno and his wife, Sue, thank supporters outside their home in State College, Pa., on Nov. 9, 2011. He was fired as Penn State’s coach in a late-night phone call that month, after his assistant was arrested on sex-abuse charges, and died in January 2012 at age 85.

2011 File Photo/The Associated Press

FAMILY CRITIQUE, RESPONSES ONLINE

Paterno family response to Penn State’s report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal: http://paterno.com

Louis Freeh’s comment on the Paterno family’s critique: http://www.freehgroup.com/news/29

Penn State statement on the Freeh report: http://progress.psu.edu/resource-library/story/freeh-investigation-findings-used-to-improve-penn-state-operations

Paterno's widow, Sue Paterno, wrote in a letter Friday to former players that she sought a "full record of what happened."

The treatment of Paterno -- fired over a late-night telephone call -- as well as the handling of the Freeh report and the resulting NCAA sanctions by university leadership remain sensitive topics with some unhappy groups of alumni, ex-players and community residents.

Penn State said Sunday that Freeh was brought in to conduct an independent investigation of the school's response to the allegations. Freeh offered 119 recommendations to strengthen governance and compliance and most have been implemented, the school said.

Freeh, in his report, said his team conducted 430 interviews and analyzed over 3.5 million emails and documents. The former federal judge said evidence showed Paterno was involved in an "active agreement to conceal" and his report cited email exchanges, which referenced Paterno, between administrators about allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.

According to Thornburgh's findings, Freeh's report relied primarily on about 30 documents, including three notes authored by Paterno, and 17 emails. Four emails referenced Paterno -- none were sent by the octogenarian coach, who notoriously shunned modern electronic technology.

Sandusky, 69, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in October after being convicted of 45 criminal counts.

His arrest in November 2011 triggered the turmoil that led to Paterno's firing days later. Under pressure, Spanier left as president the same day. Curley was placed on administrative leave, while Schultz retired.

Spanier, Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on obstruction and conspiracy. They have maintained their innocence.

Critics have said that Freeh's team didn't speak with key figures including Curley, Schultz and Paterno, who died in January 2012 at age 85. Spanier spoke to Freeh six days before the report was released July 12.

Freeh said he respected the family's right to conduct a campaign to "shape the legacy of Joe Paterno," but called the critique self-serving. Paterno's attorney was contacted for an interview with the coach, he said, and Paterno spoke with a reporter and biographer before his death but not with Freeh's team. Paterno's attorney did provide documents.

Curley and Schultz declined numerous requests for interviews, Freeh said.

Freeh on Sunday cited grand jury testimony by Paterno in 2011 in which Paterno said McQueary relayed to him the 2001 allegation against Sandusky of a "sexual nature" with a child.

He referred to a key point in the July report in which he said the administrators drew up a plan that called for reporting Sandusky to state public welfare officials in 2001. Curley later wrote in an email that he changed his mind "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe," according to Freeh's findings.

Said Freeh on Sunday: "These men exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not even attempting to determine the identity of the child" in the 2001 allegation.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)