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Politics & Government

Paterno Family Refutes Freeh Report Accusations


The family of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has released a report refuting some of the findings of the university’s internal investigation last summer, which alleged that Paterno covered up the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

The document released Sunday morning by the firm King & Spalding says “[t]here 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.”

In July, former FBI director Louis Freeh accused Joe Paterno and three university officials of covering up the child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky, who was an assistant football coach. Less than two weeks later, the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions on the program, including $60 million in fines, a four-year ban on postseason play, and the nullification of all of Joe Paterno's victories from 1998 to 2011.

The Paterno family's investigators, Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and two other experts, say the statements in the Freeh report accusing Paterno "are unsupported and unworthy of belief,” accusing Freeh of bias against Paterno and a lackluster investigation.

“When considered in the context of investigation ‘best practices,’ it is evident that the Freeh Report and many of its findings as they relate to Mr. Paterno are not accurate, thorough, fair or credible," wrote Thornburgh. "The process of the [Special Investigative Counsel]’s investigation was deficient in numerous ways, including the failure to interview virtually all of the key witnesses and the reliance upon limited, ambiguous documents.”

The critique, available online, goes on to say that there is no evidence that Paterno conspired with Penn State officials to suppress information because of publicity concerns, and that Paterno did all he was required to do by reporting his knowledge to his superiors.

The document suggests that the NCAA improperly rushed to accept the Freeh report when it issued sanctions against Paterno and Penn State. The critique says the collegiate athletic governance body punished Penn State for matters that were outside the NCAA's purview of "ensuring competitive balance in amateur athletics."

Sue Paterno said in a letter dated Friday to former Penn State players that her late husband was a "moral, disciplined" man who never twisted the truth to avoid bad publicity.