The Paterno Report Calls Freeh Report Fundamentally Flawed
According to four independent investigations, former FBI director Louis Freeh's report is full of inaccuracies and should have never been used verbatim by the NCAA to levy unprecedented sanctions against Penn State.
Joe Paterno was never part of a conspiracy to conceal Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse, Wick Sollers, a Paterno family attorney, told ESPN's Bob Ley on "Outside the Lines" Sunday morning.
Four men led the charge investigating the Freeh report, which was commissioned independently by Penn State and released in July. The Freeh report condemned Paterno, the former football coach, as well as former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz for their attempt to 'cover-up' a rampant child molester on campus.
Now, in a 238-page rebuttal consisting of four sub-reports from former U.S. Attorney General and former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh, former prosecutor Jim Clemente, Dr. Fred Berlin and Sollers, the conclusion is just the opposite: Paterno is not to blame.
Thornburgh worked with Freeh and said his former colleague's report "fails to reach the kind of conclusions he or I would have insisted on from when we were prosecutors."
"It's incomplete. It's full of inaccuracies," Thornburgh said. "Much was overlooked, much was misrepresented and the fact is, it really isn't deserving of the basis for action that was insinuated by the NCAA."
Freeh, in a statement to the Associated Press on Sunday, stood by his report.
Sollers said it was 'shocking' the NCAA adopted the Freeh report verbatim and used it to sanction Penn State. The NCAA did not conduct its own investigation but the Freeh report was missing interviews with key witnesses, he said.
"The NCAA has a problem," Sollers said.
Clemente pointed to the tactics enlisted by Sandusky himself, because he said the Freeh report overlooks his ability to manipulate not only children, but an entire community. Sandusky, who was convicted in June on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving a life sentence in SCI Greene, a maximum security prison, knew how to 'groom' his victims, Clemente said, which was overlooked all but once in the entirety of the Freeh report.
The culture of Penn State football is not to blame, Clemente said.
Sollers called the Freeh report, followed by swift, 'harsh' action by the NCAA, a 'cram-down' that needs to be reevaluated. The Paterno family is 'considering all options' regarding a lawsuit against the NCAA, he said.
In Sollers' report, he says after finding out about Sandusky's crimes, Paterno's top priority was on the victims. In a handwritten note – his last before his death – Paterno wrote, "Good side of scandal – it has brought about more enlightenment of a situation (sexual abuse of young people) in the country."
Penn State responded to the Paterno family's report, too, releasing a statement Sunday morning via email:
"In November 2011, the Penn State Board of Trustees appointed former FBI director and federal Judge Louis Freeh to conduct an independent investigation of the University's response to the allegations of sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The goal of this investigation was to uncover facts and identify where failures occurred in the University's governance and compliance structure and to make recommendations to help ensure that such failures never happen again. This was an internal investigation into Penn State's response to the allegations.
"It was not within the scope of Judge Freeh's engagement to review the actions, motives or functions of entities outside of our University community. This was an internal investigation into Penn State's response to the allegations, and that is how the University has utilized the report.
"As a result of the investigation, 119 recommendations were made to Penn State in areas such as safety and governance. To date, the University has implemented a majority of those recommendations, which are helping to make the University stronger and more accountable. The University intends to implement substantially all of the Freeh recommendations by the end of 2013.
"It is understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh report."
Sue Paterno sent a letter to Penn State's lettermen Friday and will appear on Katie Couric's TV show, "Katie" at 3 p.m. Monday. Her letter, along with each of the independent reports, can be found at paterno.com.