A report commissioned by the family of former Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno said the findings by Louis Freeh released last year were “fundamentally flawed.”
Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and other experts, hired by the Paterno family, found that Paterno didn’t attempt to hide any information or impede the investigation into former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky based on a review of evidence.
Freeh’s investigation failed Penn State, the university’s board of trustees and Sandusky’s victims by not finding the truth, according to the report released this morning.
“The Freeh report is a profound failure,” Wick Sollers, an attorney at Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding LLP that was asked by the Paterno family to review Freeh’s findings, said in a statement. “It isn’t a little wrong on the minor issues. It is totally wrong on the most critical issues. That the Board and the NCAA relied on this report, without appropriate review or analysis, is a miscarriage of justice.”
In July, a report by investigator Louis Freeh found Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, fired President Graham Spanier and other officials failed to protect children from sexual abuse by former coach Jerry Sandusky. The findings were released after a seven-month investigation, ordered by a special committee of Penn State’s board of trustees.
Freeh told reporters during a July press conference that the red flags involving Sandusky were numerous and Paterno and others ignored them. Freeh said the former Penn State head coach was an “integral part” of the concealment.
“The self-serving report the Paterno family has issued today does not change the facts established in the Freeh Report or alter the conclusions reached in the Freeh Report,” Freeh wrote in a statement today. “I stand by our conclusion that four of the most powerful people at Penn State failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
The analysis by Thornburgh, a former Pennsylvania governor, attorney Sollers, a former FBI profiler, and the director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation unit found no evidence that Paterno deliberately covered up incidents of child molestation to protect Penn State football.
There wasn’t any reason to believe Paterno understood the threat posed by Sandusky any better than qualified child welfare or law enforcement officials, the analysis said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association sanctioned Penn State in July and fined it $60 million for its failure to prevent the sexual abuse by Sandusky, who was convicted of molesting 10 boys during a 15-year period when he was a football coach. The 68-year-old Sandusky, an assistant coach for 31 years under Joe Paterno, was sentenced in October to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
In addition to the fine, the NCAA, the governing body for sports, stripped Penn State of 112 football wins from 1998 through 2011 and barred the Nittany Lions from bowl games for four years, matching the longest post-season ban in NCAA history.
Joe Paterno, who set records for longevity and on-field success as Penn State’s football coach, died Jan. 22, 2012, at the age of 85. He was fired in November 2011 after 46 seasons at Penn State, following criticism he failed to contact police when told of a case involving former assistant coach Sandusky.
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