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Paterno Family Releases Statement in Advance of Pending Freeh Report

by and on July 10, 2012 11:33 AM

Updated at 6:24 p.m. Tuesday

The Paterno Family released a statement Tuesday night in advance of the pending Freeh Report being released Thursday morning.

The full statement reads:

"Over the last nine months Joe Paterno has been praised by some in near saintly terms and criticized by others as a villain.  He was neither.

"As the people who worked closely with Joe know, he was tough, aggressive, opinionated and demanding. He was also highly principled, uncompromisingly ethical, dedicated to his job at Penn State and committed to excellence.

"When the Sandusky case exploded last fall, Joe's first instincts were to tell everything he knew. He assumed the University would want to hear from him, but he was never given the chance to present his case.

"He planned to hold a press conference, but University officials ordered him to cancel it. And then the various investigations started and the legal process took over. On top of everything else, Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer. Two months later he was gone. The end result is his story has never fully been told.

"As this situation unfolded, Joe cautioned everyone not to jump to conclusions. He believed that a rush to judgment and a disregard for due process would ultimately result in conclusions that would not stand the test of time. To be clear, he did not fear the truth, he sought it. As much as anyone he wanted to know exactly what Jerry Sandusky had done and he wanted to understand how it happened.

"The hiring of the Freeh Group is the single most important action the Board of Trustees has taken. Joe supported this decision with the hope that it would result in a thorough, balanced and thoughtful assessment of the Sandusky tragedy. Unfortunately, recent events have raised questions about the fairness and confidentiality of the investigative process.

"Over the last several weeks there has been a virtual torrent of leaks about the Freeh Group's work. To be clear, we do not know the source, or sources, of the leaks. What cannot be disputed, however, is that select emails intended to smear Joe Paterno and other former Penn State officials have been released. Testimony from witnesses highly critical of Joe has been revealed. 

"And purported conclusions condemning the culture of the football program have been widely disseminated. The Board promised a fair, transparent and impartial process. These developments are a threat to their stated objectives.

"When these leaks first started we appealed to the Freeh Group, the Board and the Attorney General to condemn the leaks and caution the public that it would be wrong to reach any conclusions from selectively released materials. We then asked that all emails and other documents be released so a full picture of their research could be understood.

"As purported conclusions started leaking out, we followed up with the Freeh Group to ask for the right to respond. Since Joe Paterno never had an opportunity to present his case, we believe we should have a reasonable time to review their findings and offer information that could help complete the picture. We were told we could offer responses to the publicly reported allegations, but the Freeh Group declined to confirm that these allegations are in the final report.  

"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.

"Since the outcome of this process appears set in stone, we have no choice but to wait for the report and respond as best we can. Given that the report is estimated to be between 100-150 pages it will understandably take us some time to study it and prepare a comprehensive response."

In advance of the release of the report, there are a few facts we want on the record:

  • We would still welcome a chance to meet with the Freeh Group to review the findings and offer a response. We do not seek or expect the right to edit the report; but we believe our voice should be reflected in its conclusions.
  • To this point, Joe Paterno is the only person who publicly acknowledged that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. This was an honest and courageous admission that a true leader must assume a measure of responsibility when something goes wrong on his watch.
  • The sad and frightening fact is Jerry Sandusky was 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 Second Mile and his family.
  • With respect to the email from Tim Curley which stated, "After giving it more thought, and talking it over with Joe yesterday - I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps," the media spin that this is proof of some sort of cover up is completely false. 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.
  • 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.

"If he were with us today, we are certain Joe Paterno would say that he wished he had done any number of things differently. We also believe he would make it clear that he was not an investigator, law enforcement officer, child services professional or a member of the Board of Trustees. Joe would accept his responsibility, but he would expect others to step forward as well."

Earlier at 3:14 p.m.

Louis Freeh's report on his investigation of the Penn State scandal will be published online at 9 a.m. Thursday. 

It will be available to the general public at TheFreehReportonPSU.com. Freeh will hold a press conference at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia at 10 a.m. that morning. 

The email regarding the release of the report is below: 

Philadelphia – Judge Louis Freeh announced today that his report of the investigation into the facts and circumstances of the actions of The Pennsylvania State University surrounding the child abuse committed by a former employee, Gerald A. Sandusky, will be published online at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 12.

Judge Freeh will also hold a press conference for members of the media at 10 a.m. on the same day to discuss the findings and recommendations in the report.

Judge Freeh and his law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP, were retained in November 2011 on behalf of the Special Investigations Task Force of the Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University to conduct the independent investigation.

The report will be available as a PDF file at www.TheFreehReportonPSU.com.  The publication of the report will be the first time anyone outside of Judge Freeh’s investigative team will in any way receive the report, including The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees and the Special Investigations Task Force.  

With the exception of the interim recommendations made by Judge Freeh’s team in January 2012, this will also be the first time the full recommendations will be shared.

Spokesman Dave La Torre said Penn State is aware of the announcement of the report's release. 

"We look forward to seeing the report on Thursday and reviewing Judge Freeh's recommendations. The university will provide a response in Scranton on Thursday at a time and location to be announced."

The Board of Trustees is meeting Thursday and Friday at the Penn State Worthington-Scranton campus in Dunmore, Pa. 

Earlier at 11:33 a.m.

Louis Freeh’s investigative report on the Penn State scandal is expected to be released by the end of the week, according to two reports.

Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel said Tuesday via Twitter, “Freeh investigators were shoring up report in recent days but it's still "expected" to be released prior to Fridays Trustee meeting.”

CBS 3 Eyewitness News reporter Ben Simmoneau also tweeted the report "likely will be released by Thursday."

Penn State’s Board of Trustees will gather Friday in Scranton for a regularly scheduled meeting, where it’s expected to set tuition for the upcoming year and swear in three newly elected alumni to seats on the board. There also is a private Board session set for Thursday, as is common practice. 

The Freeh investigation was the brainchild of the Board of Trustees in wake of the university’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal last fall. It's to unearth how much university officials knew about Sandusky's behavior and explain their actions and inactions.

Hundreds reportedly have been interviewed, and the scope of the investigation is said to cover, in part, university administrators' relations with the athletic department and the culture of power within athletics.



Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.


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