Paterno investigation calls Freeh Report 'A Rush to Injustice'
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - The family of the late Joe Paterno released its results in a review of the findings in former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.
Calling it "A Rush to Injustice," the conclusions of experts hired by the family of the legendary Penn State football coach said the Freeh Report, commissioned by Penn State University, is factually wrong, speculative and fundamentally flawed.
The Paterno family's expert team featured former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, former top FBI profiler Jim Clemente, prominent Washington attorney Wick Sollers and the director of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit, Dr. Fred Berlin. Each of the four men composed separate reviews of the Freeh Report over the past six months.
According to the group's review, it was determined that the Freeh Report "does not meet the basic requirements of a thorough, objective and fair investigation."
Sandusky was found guilty last June on 45 counts charging him with sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison last October.
The scandal, which broke in November 2011 with Sandusky's arrest, brought down the Penn State football program, tarnished the legacy of Paterno and scarred the entire university.
After the Freeh Report was released last July, the NCAA followed with severe sanctions against the university's football program. The penalties included a four-year postseason ban, five years of probation and vacation of all wins dating to 1998.
Paterno was fired a few weeks after Sandusky's arrest amid accusations he didn't do enough to stop the abuse. The college football legend died in January 2012 of lung cancer and never really had a chance to tell his side of the story.
In the Freeh Report, Paterno was among many Penn State officials accused of concealing "critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the board of trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large."
Paterno, before he died, said he was unsure how to handle such things and turned over what he knew to others within the Penn State athletic department. Athletic director Tim Curley, senior vice president Gary Schultz and school president Graham Spanier were also prominent figures in the Freeh Report's accusations.
The Paterno family investigators concluded that the late coach did not attempt to hide any information or hinder or impede any investigation related to the crimes or conduct of Sandusky.
Among other findings, the experts determined that the conclusions of the Freeh Report are "based on raw speculation and unsupported opinion -- not facts and evidence."
In fact, Sollers said, "It isn't a little wrong on the minor issues. It is totally wrong on the most critical issues. That the (Penn State) Board and the NCAA relied on this report, without appropriate review or analysis, is a miscarriage of justice."
The report said Freeh failed to conduct interviews with most key witnesses and those that did speak did so anonymously and not under oath, which would never happen in a legal proceeding.
Thornburgh said the Freeh Report's factual findings are limited and incomplete, and that its observations as to Joe Paterno are unreliable and unfounded.
Dr. Berlin concluded that Paterno would not have participated in a cover-up just, as the Freeh Report had stated, 'to avoid the consequences of bad publicity.'
According to Clemente, Freeh's investigation was doomed from the start because it began with the wrong assumptions.
Freeh issued a response to the Paterno family's report later Sunday and stood by his investigation.
"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 said in a statement.
"During the investigation, we contacted Mr. Paterno's attorney in an attempt to interview Mr. Paterno. Although Mr. Paterno was willing to speak with a news reporter and his biographer at that time, he elected not to speak with us. We also asked Mr. Paterno's attorney to provide us with any evidence that he and his client felt should be considered. The documents provided were included in our 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."
Paterno's widow, Sue Paterno, issued a letter to former Penn State players on Friday, saying the family's goal was not specifically to restore the coach's legacy, but most importantly to gain a full record of what happened.
02/10 14:37:41 ET