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FBI Investigated Threatening Letters Sent to Paterno in 70s and 80s, Report Says

by on August 29, 2012 2:43 PM

An FBI file obtained by The Washington Times revealed a string of threatening letters sent to the former head coach and his staff three decades ago make no mention of Jerry Sandusky or his crimes against children. 

Sandusky, 68, was convicted on June 22 on 45 of 48 counts for abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. 

According to the report by Nathan Fenno, the 868 page file contains the details of several anonymous letters were sent to Paterno and his staff. One FBI file dated Dec. 16, 1977 noted the letters were "very upsetting to Coach Paterno." 

Fanno wrote that 44 pages of the file were not released, citing "exemptions concerning unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and revealing a confidential source."

In 1977, four letters were sent to a female staffer that said her life "was in Paterno's hands," and was postmarked from Pittsburgh, the Times reported. 

Another letter, sent to an assistant coach, said: 'I could do away with Paterno with no trouble. But I want to make him suffer. I want it to be on his conscious (sic) that he was responsible for a tragic accident to you."

The Times reported that Paterno did not take the offered local police protection, according to the file, and, "at one point, urged authorities to let him sit down with the person behind the letters if he was apprehended and help him."

"The letters signed 'A Bitter Father" reference dissatisfaction over the treatment of a former Penn State player who left the university after two years. The FBI suspected gambling connections in the letters, according to the files, but interviewed one suspect who blamed his wife's death and son's alcoholism on Paterno," the Times reported. 

Paterno died from complications from lung cancer on Jan. 22. He was 85. 

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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