The family of Joe Paterno has issued a statement in advance of the release of the Freeh investigative report in which it criticizes the leaks in the investigation and investigators' refusal to meet with them.
The statement, released Tuesday, said the family requested an opportunity to speak with the Freeh Group after emails were leaked to television news networks earlier this month that claimed Penn State University officials were planning on reporting Jerry Sandusky's sexual misconduct with a young boy in a shower at the school, but that they changed their minds after speaking with Paterno.
The family said the media have used the emails to suggest that the longtime head football coach participated in a cover-up.
"When the facts come out, it will be clear that Joe Paterno never gave Tim Curley any instructions to protect Sandusky or limit any investigation of his actions," the statement said.
"Joe Paterno did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth," the statement continued.
The family blasted Mr. Sandusky, a former assistant coach, calling him a "master deceiver."
"He fooled players, coaches, law enforcement officials, child service professionals, Penn State board members, university leaders, neighbors, donors, staff and supporters of the Second Mile and his family," the statement said.
The Paterno family said that when the charges against Mr. Sandusky were announced last fall, Paterno's "first instincts were to tell everything he knew." The statement said he assumed the university would want to hear from him, but he was "never given a chance to present his case."
Paterno was fired in November and died of lung cancer within two months.
The Paterno family said the coach did not fear the truth, but sought it and supported the decision to hire the Freeh Group "with the hope that it would result in a thorough, balanced and thoughtful assessment of the Sandusky tragedy." But the leaks of the emails "have raised questions about the fairness and confidentiality of the investigative process," the statement said.
"It is our firm belief that the report would be stronger and more credible if we were simply given a chance to review the findings concerning Joe Paterno in order to present the case he was never allowed to make," the statement said.
Mary Niederberger: email@example.com; 412-263-1590. First Published July 11, 2012 4:00 AM