For the first time since her husband died, Sue Paterno, wife and widow of former Penn State University coach Joe Paterno, broke her silence on Monday, Feb. 11 with an interview on Katie Couric’s ABC talk show “Katie.”
It has been a year since Joe Paterno died of lung cancer (January 22, 2012). Paterno was at Penn State for 61 years and was considered a legend. He had more championships than any coach in college football history. But his career came to a crashing blow when his assistant coach of 31 years, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of molesting young boys. As a result all accolades, awards, championships and even Paterno's statue was removed from the campus; as a result of an independent investigation made by a former FBI director. Sandusky was finally brought to trial, was found guilty of his heinous acts, and is currently serving 30 to 60 years in jail. Many on campus think what happened to “Joe Pa” was extreme and harsh, including his family. But there are others that thought he could have done more to try to eliminate what happened in the Happy Valley fiasco.
When Katie Couric asked how well Mrs. Paterno knew Jerry Sandusky she stated that she did not know him that well and only saw him in football settings. When she heard about what Sandusky had done, she considered his behavior “vile.”
Before the interview Couric gave a summary of the Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky saga. During the program Couric was featured visiting the Paterno household, where Sue Paterno displayed pictures and spoke of memories of the family during happier times. Joe and Sue Paterno have five children (three boys and two girls) and seventeen grandchildren. All of their children are graduates of Penn State.
Three of the Paterno children came on the second part of the interview and agreed that their father has been treated unfairly. Mrs. Paterno has hired an investigator and attorney. She was “totally devastated” and “in disbelief” by former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report. Wick Sollers, the Paterno attorney, was also present and stated that the report was “completely flawed” and was based on anonymous sources, that there were barely no documents (to substantiate), and that most emails were gone.
Joe Paterno was never under investigation. There was mention of incidents (of Sandusky) from an email in 1999 and 2001. Paterno reported the 2001 incident but it is unclear as to whether he followed up on it.
The widow who was married to Joe Paterno for 50 years and wants to keep his legacy alive but only in a positive way. She did not say whether she would go to court based on what was revealed in the 238-page report. What is certain is either Joe Paterno did not know what was going on, or he thought what was going on was exaggerated, or simply he did not want to involve himself in the process, no matter who got hurt.
Couric finalized the show by bringing on James T. Clemente, a former FBI profiler, who described characteristics of a pedophile and strongly suggested that parents have an appropriate conversation with their children on the topic.