The Paterno Report: Instant Analysis

Patrick Smith

Today, the Paterno family released four reports critiquing the Freeh Report and Freeh's methodology in crafting it. You can find the full report (all 200+ pages of it) at www.paterno.com.

First off, let me preface this by saying I haven't yet tackled the reports themselves. This is an important caveat, in my opinion, because of all of the media and bloggers who purported to have read the Freeh report, when all they read was the summary.

As of writing, all I've read of the Paterno report are the four separate summaries, as well as the overview. I also watched the OTL special this morning, for whatever that is worth.

I'm going to start the bulk of this piece on my expectations before this report was released: I had none. That may come as a surprise to many; a lot of Penn Staters were hoping or expecting a smoking gun, a previously-unreleased piece of information that would completely exonerate Joe Paterno of any and all wrongdoing in regards to the Jerry Sandusky trial.

This, of course, was nothing of the sort.

That smoking gun may still be out there, but as of yet, there's no evidence pointing to its existence. All we have is all we have, what little it may be. The purpose of this report, then, was not to shed more light on what happened, to "uncover the TRUTH", but rather to rebut the factual inaccuracies and omissions of the Freeh Report, commissioned by our school's Board of Trustees. By most accounts, the Board got from Freeh what they wanted to get from Freeh, and nothing more; but that unequivocally doesn't mean that what they got was in the best interest of our University, its alumni, students and fans.

This report was not for you or I. This report was for those outside of the Penn State community, those who took Freeh as gospel and at face value and didn't think (or didn't care to think) about the incompleteness of the report he published. This report was for the NCAA and, potentially, for any future litigation the Paternos may end up filing against the university or the association.

This report, for the most part, says what a lot of us have been saying for a while: the Freeh report was shoddy, incomplete, and drew a lot of conclusions based entirely on suppositions not backed up by relevant fact.

Here are some of the money quotes I found from the summaries:

Former Governor/US AG Dick Thornburgh's report:

The Freeh report does not provide support for its claim that Paterno had any knowledge of key facts to support its findings. In fact, Freeh ignored contrary evidence that Paterno did not have such knowledge.

Freeh admits that there is no evidence of interference by Paterno or any University administrator with the 1998 investigation into allegations about Sandusky’s conduct. That does not prevent the Freeh report, however, from drawing the conclusion of a cover up.

Freeh’s lack of access to the most critical witnesses calls into question the fairness, completeness, thoroughness and credibility of the findings in his report.

Former FBI Profiler, prosecutor and sex crime expert Jim Clemente's report:

There is no other way to say it: on the most critical aspects of the Sandusky investigation, the SIC report is a failure. It does a tremendous disservice to Penn State, Joe Paterno, and the victims of Jerry Sandusky.

The Freeh report missed an opportunity to educate the public about "nice-guy" acquaintance offenders. Indeed, this case has nothing to do with Penn State football or Joe Paterno, and if the public continues to believe that, it will unwittingly cancel out everything we have learned about child sexual victimization.

Founder of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic Dr. Fred Berlin's report:

In looking back, it is one thing to suggest that perhaps more could have been done. It is another to entirely impugn a lack of good faith and malevolent self-serving motives in the absence of compelling evidence. The Freeh report went far beyond second guessing Joe Paterno’s actions by implying that he had not been acting in good faith.

We'll have more on this in days to come. For more instant analysis from members of the BSD community, an open thread was set up here (thanks to Paige2PSU), and a fanshot was set up this morning.


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