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The family of former Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno released a report yesterday that said Louis Freeh’s investigation into a child sex abuse case was “fundamentally flawed.”
Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and other experts, hired by the Paterno family, said they determined in a review of evidence that Paterno didn’t attempt to hide any information or impede the probe into former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Freeh’s findings, released last year, failed Penn State, the university’s board of trustees and Sandusky’s victims by not finding the truth, according to the Paterno family’s report.
“The Freeh report is a profound failure,” Wick Sollers, an attorney at Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding LLP (1140L) that was asked by the Paterno family to review Freeh’s findings, said in a statement. “It isn’t a little wrong on the minor issues. It is totally wrong on the most critical issues. That the Board and the NCAA relied on this report, without appropriate review or analysis, is a miscarriage of justice.”
In July, the report from former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Freeh found Paterno, former Penn State President Graham Spanier and other officials failed to protect children from sexual abuse by Sandusky. The findings were released after a seven-month investigation, ordered by a special committee of Penn State’s board of trustees.
Freeh told reporters during a July press conference that the red flags involving Sandusky were numerous and Paterno and others ignored them. Freeh said the former Penn State head coach was an “integral part” of the concealment.
The “self-serving” report commissioned by the Paterno family “does not change the facts established in the Freeh report or alter the conclusions reached in the Freeh Report,” Freeh wrote in a statement yesterday.
“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.”
Sollers responded in a statement that Freeh “refuses to address the critical factual and procedural failures in his own report.”
Penn State said in an e-mailed statement that the purpose of the Freeh investigation was to highlight failures in the school’s governance and compliance structure and to make recommendations to correct those failures.
The university said that it has implemented a majority of the 119 recommendations in the report and will adopt the remainder by the end of 2013.
The analysis by Thornburgh, a former Pennsylvania governor; attorney Sollers; former FBI profiler Jim Clemente; and Fred Berlin, the director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation unit, found no evidence that Paterno deliberately covered up incidents of child molestation to protect Penn State football.
There wasn’t any reason to believe Paterno understood the threat posed by Sandusky any better than qualified child welfare or law enforcement officials, the analysis said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association sanctioned Penn State in July and fined it $60 million for its failure to prevent the sexual abuse by Sandusky, who was convicted of molesting 10 boys during a 15-year period when he was a football coach. The 69-year-old Sandusky, an assistant coach for 31 years under Paterno, was sentenced in October to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
In addition to the fine, the NCAA, the governing body for college sports, stripped Penn State’s football program of 112 wins from 1998 through 2011 and barred the Nittany Lions from bowl games for four years, matching the longest post-season ban in NCAA history.
Paterno, who set records for longevity and on-field success as Penn State’s football coach, died Jan. 22, 2012, at the age of 85. He was fired in November 2011 after 46 seasons at Penn State, following criticism he failed to contact police when told of a case involving former assistant coach Sandusky.
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