The family of Joe Paterno released on Sunday an extensive analysis that sharply criticizes findings related to the legendary Penn State football coach in a report produced last summer by Louis J. Freeh, condemning that investigation as a “rush to injustice.” Penn State had retained Mr. Freeh, a former FBI director, to investigate the university’s role in the child-sexual-abuse scandal involving a former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.
“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,” Wick Sollers, a partner with the Washington law firm King & Spalding, writes in an overview to the Paterno family’s critique. “The contrary statements in the Freeh report are unsupported and unworthy of belief.”
The family’s critique contains a report by Mr. Sollers and independent analyses by three other experts, including the former U.S. attorney general Richard Thornburgh. “We conclude,” Mr. Sollers writes, “that the observations as to Joe Paterno in the Freeh report are unfounded, and have done a disservice not only to Joe Paterno and to the Penn State University community, but also to the victims of Jerry Sandusky and the critical mission of educating the public on the dangers of child sexual victimization.”
Mr. Paterno died of lung cancer last year. He and the university’s president, Graham B. Spanier, were fired in November 2011 after the allegations against Mr. Sandusky were revealed in a grand-jury report. The Freeh report, which came out in July 2012, concluded that Mr. Paterno had a shared responsibility with Mr. Spanier and two other senior administrators in decisions that allowed Mr. Sandusky continued access to the campus despite their knowledge of a 1998 criminal investigation of Mr. Sandusky and evidence that he had sexually abused a boy in the Penn State football showers in 2001. Mr. Sandusky was was convicted last summer on 45 counts related to child sex abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Mr. Freeh, in a written statement released on Sunday, strongly defended his team’s investigation and report. Mr. Paterno “was on notice for at least 13 years” that Mr. Sandusky “was a probable serial pedophile,” he writes. He adds: “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.”
Penn State also issued a brief statement on Sunday saying that it would continue putting into effect “substantially all” of the 119 recommendations in the Freeh report regarding campus safety and governance. “It is understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh report,” the statement says.