Joe Paterno did not cover up child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago, and the way he was portrayed in the scathing report by former FBI director Louis Freeh was a profound failure, a report commissioned by the family said Sunday.
Through the report, the Paterno family seeks to change the national dialogue about the longtime Penn State coach whose reputation was tarnished after Freeh branded him part of a cover-up with other university leaders to escape bad publicity. The new reports team of experts, including an FBI sex crimes profiler and a former Pennsylvania governor, ripped into Freehs methods and conclusions, saying he collected weak, out-of-context evidence and drew strikingly wrong conclusions.
There is no evidence that Joe Paterno deliberately covered up known incidents of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky to protect Penn State football or for any other reason, said former Gov. Dick Thornburgh, one of the reports contributors. The contrary statements in the Freeh report are unsupported and unworthy of belief.
There is no reason to believe that Joe Paterno understood the threat posed by Jerry Sandusky better than qualified child welfare and law enforcement professionals.
The rebuttal was made available Sunday morning on the familys new website, Paterno.com. It followed Fridays release of a letter from Paternos widow, Sue, to Nittany Lion lettermen in which she blasted the Freeh report and hinted toward the pending release of the full report.
Sue Paterno was interviewed by ABCs Katie Couric for her show, Katie. The interview will air at 4 p.m. Monday.
The Paterno familys critique called Freehs report speculative and fundamentally flawed.
It isnt a little wrong on the minor issues. It is totally wrong on the most critical issues, attorney Wick Sollers said. That the (b)oard (of trustees) and the NCAA relied on this report, without appropriate review or analysis, is a miscarriage of justice.
Sollers said in a televised interview Sunday that the family is considering all options at this point on whether to file a lawsuit.
The response from the Paternos has been a long time coming. The family promised in July, after the Freeh report was released, to do their own investigation, and Sue Paterno had Sollers assemble the team to do the work.
Of course, the Paterno report re-ignited discussion over the Freeh report, which has already been bashed by Penn State reform groups, the attorneys for three senior university leaders who were indicted on cover-up charges, and people in the community. The Paternos 238-page report, which an author said was not a re-investigation of the investigation, is akin to defense attorneys in a high-profile civil lawsuit presenting their case, trying to raise doubt about and refute the plaintiffs evidence. Except in this case, there is no trial and there is no jury, just public opinion and NCAA sanctions.
On the surface, the Paterno report does not provide documentation of new interviews or rewrite history. However, it seeks to shred some of the conclusions by raising questions about Freehs motives, the lack of access the investigators had to people directly involved in the scandal and the contradictions in his work.