Joe Paterno's character was unfairly torn to shreds based on unsupported facts and opinions in the Freeh Report according to a rebuttal report commissioned by the Paterno family. The report released Sunday morning by the Paterno family and legal firm King and Spalding claims the independent investigation commissioned by Penn State University in 2012 and led by former FBI director Louis Freeh was an unfair rush to judgment on Paterno's involvement in the response by Penn State to crimes of sexual abuse of children committed by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The Paterno report breaks down many of the alleged holes in the Freeh investigation and focuses on the depth of the investigation as well as the shortcomings detailed by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.
Among the points made in the defense of the characterization Joe Paterno include:
- Joe Paterno was empathetic of the victims of Sandusky
- The Freeh report is deeply flawed and conclusions relating to Paterno were unfair and unsupported
- Each main observation about Paterno was wrong, either contradicting or unsubstantiated by evidence
- The authors of the Freeh report chose not to present alternative, more plausible conclusions regarding Paterno's role in the Sandusky response by Penn State officials
The mission of the report may have been to defend the image of Joe Paterno, but the report does a more solid job of explaining why the Freeh Report should be open for criticism.
While the image of Paterno may be difficult to restore to a pre 2011 status by many nationally, the report is more successful in opening eyes to previously stated criticisms of the Freeh Report. Despite the evaluation of the Freeh Report, the Paterno report fails to land a significant amount of evidence proving Paterno was free of any responsibility in the Sandusky scandal.
Unfortunately, the only person who knew whatever it was that Paterno did or did not know was Joe Paterno, who passed away in January 2012.
Freeh released a formal statement in response to the release of the Paterno summary report. In it Freeh defends his report and the measures to compiling the information that was adopted by the NCAA to issue severe sanctions against Penn State and the football program last summer.
"I respect the right of the Paterno family to hire private lawyers and former government officials to conduct public media campaigns in an effort to shape the legacy of Joe Paterno," Freeh said in his statement. "However, 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."
In light of the criticisms printed in the Paterno report, Freeh believes his own report was confidently assembled.
"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," Freeh has stated. "These men exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not even attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001."
You can read the full Paterno report on Paterno.com.