Paterno Rebuttal to Freeh Report: Joe Paterno Was Victim of Sandusky’s Grooming


Unsurprisingly, the Paterno family’s rebuttal to Penn State’s Freeh Report, dubbed the “Critique of the Freeh report” and released Sunday morning at the new paterno.com, asserts that the Freeh Report is totally wrong. The rebuttal is a compilation of “independent analyses” conducted over six months by four “experts”—former PA governor Dick Thornburgh, onetime FBI profiler Jim Clemente, Fred S. Berlin, a doctor who specializes in sex abuse and sex disorders, and Wick Sollers, the Paterno family’s attorney. Citing interviews with Joe Paterno before his death and “access to the lawyers for other Penn State administrators,” the critique includes the following:

For decades, Joe Paterno respected Sandusky’s talent as a coach and professional colleague and recognized Sandusky’s widely-stated passion for helping kids, but the Freeh report missed that they disliked each other personally, had very little in common outside work, and did not interact much if at all socially.

At worst, [Paterno] believed that Sandusky was a touchy-feely guy who had boundary issues. This fact is clear from his repeated statements before he died.

Paterno did what most people who cared about children would have done in the same situation. More than a decade later, and in hindsight, Paterno showed his concern for the victims when he stated he, “wished [he] had done more.”

Paterno, like everyone else who knew Sandusky, simply fell victim to effective “grooming.”

Mr. Freeh generated a rapid domino effect of negative coverage that immediately and unfairly tainted perceptions of Joe Paterno by the media, the Penn State community, the NCAA, and the public. … The Freeh report, which was 267 pages and included 702 endnotes and 105 pages of appendices, was released only an hour before his press conference.

The conspiracy claim made by the Freeh report based on a string of three emails falls apart under scrutiny. Because of a technology switch in 2004, most of the Penn State emails for the time in question are not accessible. Moreover, there are no emails authored by Joe Paterno and none that he received.

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