WASHINGTON, D.C. — The family of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno commissioned a report released today that criticized the July 2012 report put together by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that asserted the former Penn State head coach worked with three other high-ranking Penn State officials to cover up the allegations of child sexual abuse by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
The Paterno family immediately denounced the Freeh Report when it was released and commissioned its lawyer, Wick Sollers, to use his law firm, King and Spalding of Washington D.C., to conduct a comprehensive review of review of the Freeh Report with its own “group of experts.”
The law firm hired former U.S. attorney general Richard Thornburgh, former FBI supervisory special agent and state prosecutor James Clemente, and Dr. Fred Berlin, the director of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit.
In their report titled “The Rush To Injustice Regarding Joe Paterno,” the experts concluded that the Paterno did not attempt to conceal any information or block any investigation of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. You can read the full report here.
In a media release from the Paterno family, some of the report’s major findings include:
- The allegation is false that Joe Paterno participated in a conspiracy to cover up Sandusky’s actions because of a fear of bad publicity or for any other reason.
- There is no evidence to support the allegation that the football culture at Penn State was somehow to blame for Sandusky’s crimes. Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh says that including such a claim, with no factual basis to support it, undermines the credibility of the entire report.
- Freeh’s failure to conduct interviews with most of the key witnesses is a glaring deficiency. In the 1998 incident, for example, Freeh’s investigators failed to interview at least 14 of the most important witnesses, including Curley, Schultz, the District Attorney’s office, the Department of Public Welfare and the University’s police department or its outside legal counsel. This pattern was repeated in the 2001 review. Having never talked with these individuals, the Freeh report still claimed to know what they did and why they did it.
- Freeh investigators did not have subpoena power, and no one testified under oath. Worse, witnesses were allowed to speak anonymously, something that would never happen in a legitimate legal proceeding.
- The conspiracy claim made by the Freeh report based on a string of three emails falls apart under scrutiny. Because of a technology switch in 2004, most of the Penn State emails for the time in question are not accessible. Moreover, there are no emails authored by Joe Paterno and none that he received. In fact, the emails referenced by the Freeh report show that Joe Paterno knew few details about Sandusky, that he acted in good faith and that he did what he thought was right based on what he knew at the time.
- The validity and thoroughness of the Freeh report was oversold to the public, leading to the report being accepted in full and without review by The Board of Trustees and the NCAA.
Louis Freeh released a statement in response to the Paterno family’s commissioned report. In the statement, Freeh says, “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.”