Paterno family review on Freeh report: 'Profound failure'

By Chip Patterson | College Writer

The Paterno family commissioned an analysis of the findings in the report issued last summer by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which was used by the NCAA and Penn State officials to issue and accept punishments related to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The report released Sunday includes the opinions of four experts brought in by the family who described the Freeh investigation as "a rush to injustice" and "fundamentally flawed."

Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, Washington attorney Wick Sollers and Dr. Fred Berlin, director of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit, all weighed in in a massive report that can be found in its entirety at www.paterno.com.

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The Paterno family report nitpicks nearly every angle of the Freeh report involving late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. It also attacks Freeh's investigation, motives and conclusions.

While the NCAA, and Freeh, boasted of the 430 people interviewed and 3 million documents used for the July 2012 report, the Paterno family report claims that limited to access to documents "call into question the legitimacy of the entire report."

Among the many criticisms in the lengthy report from the Paterno family, there are a few notable conclusions:

  • Freeh's investigation concluded exactly what it set out to find. Specifically, investigators "produced a report that fit their expectations despite contrary evidence or a more reasonable interpretation."
  • There was no factual evidence to prove Joe Paterno avoided sharing information regarding Jerry Sandusky to avoid bad publicity for the school and/or football program.
  • Jerry Sandusky was an "exceptionally effective manipulator and deceiver." The Paterno family report suggests Joe Paterno did not recognize the former assistant coach as a child molestor after the 2001 incident.
  • The Freeh report was negligent in understanding and analyzing a child sexual victimization case.

"Mr. Freeh irresponsibly blamed Joe Paterno in this scandal, and violated the most basic notions of due process by offering a flawed, one-sided viewpoint without affording any meaningful opportunity for Joe Paterno, his representatives, or any neutral third party to sanity check Mr. Freeh's opinions before he announced them as proven at a national press conference," Sollers writes in the report. "Mr. Freeh generated a rapid domino effect of negative coverage that permanently, immediately and unfairly tainted perceptions of Joe Paterno by the media, the Penn State community, the NCAA and the public."

More than anything, the Paterno family report criticizes the way the report was presented and accepted, in a rapid manner that created a whirlwind of negative publicity and gave a black eye to Joe Paterno's reputation. After the removal of his statue and the NCAA vacation of 112 victories from 1998-2011, the family is looking to set the record straight.

"I respect the right of the Paterno family to hire private lawyers and former government officials to conduct public media campaigns in an effort to shape the legacy of Joe Paterno," Freeh said in a statement. "However, 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.

"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."

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