Paterno family issues report challenging Freeh's findings

Freeh dismisses the challenge


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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Paterno family made its formal pitch to explain the actions of Joe Paterno with regards to the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, concluding the Freeh report was fundamentally flawed and that Paterno did not conceal the crimes of Sandusky.

"The Freeh report is a profound failure," said Wick Sollers, the Paterno family's lawyer.

Mr. Sollers, former U.S. attorney general and former Pennsylvania governor Dick Thornburgh, former FBI profiler Jim Clemente and sexual disorders expert Dr. Fred S. Berlin contributed to the report, which featured few new facts; instead it dissected the Freeh Report, offering evidence for why Mr. Freeh's conclusions about Paterno were inaccurate. As Mr. Sollers wrote, they did not want to do a "reinvestigation of an investigation."

The report charged that Mr. Freeh and his team did not interview enough key people -- mainly former athletic director Tim Curley, former assistant coach Mike McQueary and former vice president of finance Gary Schultz -- and that its evidence for criticizing Paterno's actions was not credible enough, relying on three e-mail chains and selective testimony from uninformed sources, namely a janitor who spoke of the power of the football program.

Of the e-mails, the most critical aspect of the Freeh Report concerning Paterno, Mr. Thornburgh argued that the 1998 e-mails, presented by Mr. Freeh as illustrating Paterno's knowledge of an investigation of Sandusky, were vague. Mr. Thornburgh wrote that it was unclear if the e-mails referred to that investigation when Mr. Curley wrote he had touched base with Paterno in an e-mail.

Mr. Sollers and his team made a similar claim regarding Paterno's role in the 2001 Lasch Football Building shower incident witnessed by former assistant football coach Mike McQueary. They argued that the e-mail evidence was particularly unreliable because a university computer system change caused most e-mails from 2004 to be irrecoverable, limiting the availability of e-mail data from 1998 and 2001.

In the report done for the family, Paterno was characterized as a person with a track record of honesty and integrity who was fooled by Sandusky.

"In looking back, with the advantage of hindsight, it is one thing to suggest that perhaps more could have been done, and that there are lessons to be learned," said Mr. Berlin, the sexual disorders expert, in the report. "... It is another thing entirely to impugn a lack of good faith, and malevolent self-serving motives, in the absence of compelling evidence."

Mr. Freeh released a statement to ESPN on Sunday morning, shortly after the Paterno Report came out, saying "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."

He said that he attempted to interview Paterno, through his attorney, before he died, and Paterno chose not to speak. Mr. Sollers denied that Mr. Freeh reached out to Paterno in a statement issued on Sunday afternoon.

Penn State defended its use of the Freeh Report, which the university commissioned for $6.5 million. University spokesperson David La Torre said in a release that the recommendations from it have made the university more accountable.

"It is understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh Report."

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Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, Twitter @mdent05. First Published February 10, 2013 12:45 PM


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