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Paterno Family Lawyer: Former Coach `Did Not Interfere With or Attempt to Compromise Any Investigation'

on June 29, 2012 11:00 PM

Updated at 6:25 p.m. Saturday

Wick Sollers, who represents the Paterno family, said in a statement Saturday that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno "did not interfere with or attempt to compromise any investigation."

CNN reported Friday night that more than two weeks after former assistant coach Mike McQueary discovered Jerry Sandusky in a shower in the Lasch Football Building with a young boy in 2001, three top Penn State administrators reportedly exchanged a series of emails about whether to contact The Second Mile or the state Department of Welfare.

In the report, CNN said former athletic director Tim Curley referenced a conversation he had with then-Penn State president Graham Spanier, noting Curley wanted to talk with Sandusky before taking any action.

An email from Curley also indicated he had talked with Paterno about the situation.

“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps,” Curley was quoted saying in an email. "I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation."

The complete statement issued by Sollers Saturday:

“Some number of email exchanges between former Penn State officials have apparently been leaked to the media. Since the Paterno family is not in possession of these emails, it would be inappropriate to comment on their supposed content. To be clear, the emails in question did not originate with Joe Paterno or go to him as he never personally utilized email.

“From the beginning, Joe Paterno warned against a rush to judgment in this case. Coach Paterno testified truthfully, to the best of his recollection, in the one brief appearance he made before the Grand Jury.

“As he testified, when informed of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky in 2001, Coach Paterno, followed University procedures and promptly and fully informed his superiors. He believed the matter would be thoroughly and professionally investigated and he did not interfere with or attempt to compromise any investigation.”

Earlier at 11 p.m., June 29

More than two weeks after former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary discovered Jerry Sandusky in a shower in the Lasch Football Building with a young boy in 2001, three top administrators reportedly exchanged a series of emails about whether to contact The Second Mile or the state Department of Welfare.
 
That revelation was made by CNN in a report Friday night.
 
CNN said throughout the course of four email exchanges, Sandusky was never referred to by name. Instead, he was called “the subject” and The Second Mile was called the “charitable organization.”
 
Sandusky, the Nittany Lions' former defensive coordinator, was found guilty on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period last Friday night at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.
 
Citing unnamed sources, CNN reported then-senior vice president Gary Schultz messaged former athletic director Tim Curley about a three-part plan to talk with Sandusky, contact the Second Mile and inform state authorities.
 
The next night, CNN reported, Curley references a conversation he had with then-Penn State president Graham Spanier, noting Curley wanted to talk with Sandusky before taking any action. An email from Curley also indicated he talked with football coach Joe Paterno about the situation.
 
“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps,” Curley was quoted saying in an email.

Curley even expressed support for getting "professional help" for Sandusky in the CNN report, which aired on Anderson Cooper 360.

"I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation," Curley reportedly wrote.

CNN reported that Schultz wrote in an email, "This is a more humane and upfront way to handle this."

Spanier also refers to Penn State's course of action as "humane," CNN reported.

And Curley makes reference to “the first situation,” likely meaning the shower incident involving Sandusky and a young boy in the Lasch building in 1998.
 
Both Curley and Paterno have said publicly they did not know of the 1998 incident, and Paterno testified to the grand jury in January 2011 that when told of the 2001 incident by McQueary, he passed it up along the chain of command to Curley and was no longer involved.
 
In 2001, when informed by Curley that he planned to talk with Sandusky and also contact The Second Mile, but not necessarily child welfare if Sandusky cooperated and gets professional help, Spanier concurred with the decision, according to the emails obtained by CNN.
 
“I am supportive,” Spanier emailed Curley, according to CNN. “The only downside for us is if the message isn’t heard and acted upon, and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it.”
 
Penn State never reported the incident to state or child welfare authorities.

Tom Kline, a lawyer for Victim 5 in the Sandusky case, told CNN he was shocked by the emails.

"It is unquestionable that had these men not engaged in a concerted, conscious, collaborative effort not the report this to authorities, that the young man who I represent would not have been assaulted in the showers some six months later," Kline said.

Both Curley and Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse and are awaiting trial. The next hearing in their case is set for July 11 in Dauphin County court. 

Neither Spanier nor Paterno were charged. Spanier, however, is in a legal battle with Penn State about whether he can have access to old emails.

The lawyers for Curley and Schultz, Caroline Roberto and Tom Farrell, told CNN in a statement:

“As Governor Tom Corbett stated, ‘If we are going to do this case, we had to have the best possible case to go against somebody like Mr. Sandusky who was … loved by everybody … carried out of the football stadium on the shoulders of his football team.'  

"For Curley, Schultz, Spanier and Paterno, the responsible and ‘humane’ thing to do was, like Governor Corbett, to carefully and responsibly assess the best way to handle vague, but troubling allegations. Faced with tough situations, good people try to do their best to make the right decisions.”

A spokesman for Paterno’s family told CNN that neither he nor the family had seen any emails. Paterno died Jan. 22 from complications related to lung cancer.

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