If you don’t know anything about Penn State’s investigation of former coach Jerry Sandusky and the allegations and conclusions of the Freeh report than you must be living under a rock.
Freeh was hired on Nov. 21, 2011 and paid $6.5 million by Penn State University trustees who fired Paterno after forty-six years as head coach, to conduct the investigation. Freeh said his team interviewed more than 430 people and reviewed more than 3 million documents to prepare the 267 page report.
The July 12th report concluded that Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz conducted a cover-up of allegations that Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, sexually abused young boys.
The Paterno family didn’t waste any time and immediately went into action by instructing its lawyer to form a "group of experts" to conduct a comprehensive review of the facts and conclusions. ESPN reports that the Paterno family asked its attorney's law firm, King and Spalding of Washington, D.C., to start "a comprehensive review of the report and Joe Paterno's conduct. They authorized us to engage the preeminent experts in their field and to obtain their independent analyses."
Former U.S. attorney general Richard Thornburgh, former FBI supervisory special agent, former state prosecutor James Clemente, and Dr. Fred Berlin, a treating physician, psychiatrist, psychologist and expert in sexual disorders and pedophilia at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine were hired by the family’s law firm.
Thornburgh writes, "The lack of factual support for the [Freeh report's] inaccurate and unfounded findings related to Mr. Paterno and its numerous process-oriented deficiencies call into question the credibility of the entire report." He continues, "In my opinion, the Freeh report is seriously flawed, both with respect to the process of [its] investigation and its findings related to Mr. Paterno. There was just a rush to injustice."
The NCAA is under the gun as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett filed a federal lawsuit against them last month, saying the NCAA violated anti-trust laws when it handed down sanctions against Penn State. The NCAA has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. You can bet this fight is far from over.
So is the Freeh report a "total failure" that is "full of fallacies, unsupported personal opinions, false allegations and biased assertions?" It is certainly conceivable that there was a quest for swift action. Waving the wand of justice irresponsibly is a dangerous act.
The bottom line is, any sports fan would want to believe that a man like Paterno with an untarnished reputation would be respected enough not to be taken down by another man’s despicable actions unjustly. Did Paterno do everything he could have done? That is still up for debate but the Paterno family report is certainly opening up the discussion for how skewed the Freeh report may be.
In a perfect world, Joe Paterno’s reputation would be completely restored, his statue would be resurrected at Beaver Stadium and the coach that made such a positive impact in so many people’s lives could finally rest in peace.