The Paterno family commissioned its own investigation of the Freeh Report and issued a 238-page response today. Not surprisingly, the response criticized the salient findings of the Freeh Report and absolved Joe Paterno of any blame in Penn State’s handling of Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse.
There is no evidence that Joe Paterno deliberately covered up known incidents of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky to protect Penn State football or for any other reason; the contrary statements in the Freeh report are unsupported and unworthy of belief. As described in more detail below, there is no reason to believe that Joe Paterno understood the threat posed by Jerry Sandusky better than qualified child welfare and law enforcement professionals. There is no evidence that Joe Paterno conspired with Penn State officials to suppress information because of publicity concerns. And Joe Paterno’s testimony before the grand jury in 2011 was truthful.
You can view a summary of the report here and read the full report here. ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. provides an analysis here. Louis Freeh released a statement in response to the response. He defends the procedure and findings of his investigation.
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.
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…
Mr. Paterno was on notice for at least 13 years that Sandusky, one of his longest serving assistants, and whose office was steps away, was a probable serial pedophile. Mr. Paterno was aware of the criminal 1998 investigation into Sandusky’s suspected child sexual abuse. Indeed, the evidence shows that Mr. Paterno closely followed that case. Later, in 2001, another one of his assistants, Mr. McQueary, directly reported to Mr. Paterno that Sandusky was sexually abusing a young boy in Mr. Paterno’s Penn State football locker room. The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno purposefully ignored this evidence.
Both the Freeh Report and the Paterno response are interpretations of imperfect information. The Freeh Report was tailored to reach a logical conclusion. The Paterno response was tailored to reach a specific conclusion. It is hard to see the polar opinions on this matter softening.
Multiple parties spent millions. The truth rests with the deceased man who, as Freeh notes, declined to cooperate with the investigation.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]