Yesterday, the Paterno family released a critique of the Freeh report, which was published last summer as an investigation into Penn State’s actions regarding allegations of child-sex abuse at the hands of longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
The rebuttal attempted to do two things: rebuild Joe Paterno‘s reputation to a pre-Sandusky level, and pick apart the Freeh report’s methodology — the latter of which it did with some degree of success.
Last July I was surprised and saddened by the Freeh Report and the subsequent press conference held by the former FBI Director. In response to the shocking findings, which were so definitively and passionately presented, and based on the reputation of Louis Freeh, I issued a statement which said in part, “According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day.”
I made this statement without having read the report in full. When I later took the time to do so, I was surprised to learn that the alarming allegations, which so disturbed the nation, were essentially theories and assertions rather than solid charges backed by solid evidence. On reflection I may have unintentionally contributed to a rush to judgment.
With the release of the report by the King and Spalding law firm, including analysis by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former FBI profiler James Clemente, it is clear that the findings of the Freeh Report were unjustified and unsubstantiated. When this tragic story first unfolded Joe cautioned all of us to slow down and carefully gather the facts before jumping to conclusions. We owed it to the victims, he said, to get to the truth. It was counsel we all should have followed. Additionally, The NCAA’s actions are exposed as totally unwarranted. The NCAA acted outside its charter and rendered judgment absent any kind of investigation or judicial hearing. It was simply grandstanding.
And while some may still debate the who, what, when, where, why of this sad case, the clear villain, as Jim Clemente notes, is Jerry Sandusky himself.
Knight spoke at Paterno’s funeral last year, coming to Paterno’s defense over how the longtime Nittany Lions coach handled the Sandusky situation. Upon the release of the Freeh report later that year, Knight backed off his comments.