Paterno family to review Freeh report conclusions

Family says coach is misrepresented


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HARRISBURG -- Joe Paterno's family took aim at the Freeh report in a statement Monday, condemning its conclusions about the former Penn State University head football coach as inaccurate and pledging an internal review of their own.

While the family said in the hours after the 267-page document was released Thursday that its facts were "almost entirely consistent with what we understood them to be," a spokeswoman said Monday that the report does not tell the full story.

"We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed," the Paterno family statement reads. "Mr. Freeh presented his opinions and interpretations as if they were absolute facts. We believe numerous issues in the report, and his commentary, bear further review."

The report was assembled by a team led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. He was hired by Penn State's board of trustees to investigate how administrators responded to allegations that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted boys on and off campus.

The Freeh report implicated Mr. Paterno, along with former Penn State president Graham Spanier, retired vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, as key figures in enabling the incidents between Mr. Sandusky and a series of young boys to be hidden from the public.

Mr. Paterno, who died of complications from lung cancer in January, was never interviewed by Mr. Freeh's team.

Family members said in the statement that they have asked the Freeh team to preserve its records, notes and other materials. A spokesman for the Freeh investigation declined to comment.

The "comprehensive review" sought by the Paterno family also is "to go beyond the report and identify additional information that should be analyzed," according to its statement.

While Mr. Paterno previously was believed to have been told only about a 2001 incident in a Penn State locker room witnessed by a graduate assistant, the Freeh report indicated that he also was aware of an earlier shower incident involving Mr. Sandusky and a young boy that was investigated internally.

The family asserted in its statement that Mr. Paterno "did not shield Jerry Sandusky from any investigation or review," and that the 1998 report was "fully and independently" investigated.

"It can certainly be asserted that Joe Paterno could have done more," the statement continued. "He acknowledged this himself last fall. But to claim that he knowingly, intentionally protected a pedophile is false."

The statement from Mr. Paterno's relatives came as school officials were refuting reports that they were considering removing the bronze statue of the long-time coach that stands next to the football stadium.

A spokesman for the university issued a statement Sunday indicating that no decision has been made regarding the statue's future.

University officials also confirmed Monday that Mr. Sandusky's lucrative retirement package, which the Freeh report detailed, had been revoked in November.

That agreement had granted the former coach free football and basketball tickets for life, use of the locker rooms and other facilities, support for his nonprofit's outreach programs, and access to an office on campus for at least 10 years.

He also was given a lump-sum payment of $168,000 as part of that package, which university spokesman David LaTorre said Mr. Sandusky is not required to repay. He likely still remains eligible for the state pension benefits he accrued during his three decades at Penn State.

The university had no direct response to the Paterno family statement, though president Rodney Erickson sent a message to students and staffers Monday morning urging them to continue work in the classroom that will restore Penn State's image "as a force for advancement and good."

"I promise you, we will learn from our past and take the steps that will allow us to emerge and grow into a stronger, better university," Mr. Erickson wrote.

state

Harrisburg Bureau chief Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 1-717-787-4254. First Published July 17, 2012 4:00 AM


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