Paterno Family Releases Critique of Freeh Report

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 10 2013 2:05 PM

Paterno Family Releases Critique of Freeh Report, Calling it “Factually Wrong”

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A 2011 photograph of then-Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno leaving the team's football building. Paterno died Jan. 22, 2012

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

A report commissioned by the family of the late former Pennsylvania State University head football coach Joe Paterno harshly criticizes a previous investigation that claimed Paterno and other officials were to blame for covering a sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of sexually assaulting boys. The extensive analysis, issued by a group of experts, including former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, analyzed the findings of the university-funded investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, concluding that it was “factually wrong, speculative and ‘fundamentally flawed,’” according to a statement posted on Paterno.com.

The report ultimately “targets nearly every conclusion and assertion the Freeh report made about Paterno,” notes ESPN, specifically stating that the university-funded investigation relied on “rank speculation” and “subjective opinions” to reach its conclusion.

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Thornburgh, along with the other experts hired by the Paterno family, concluded Freeh failed to present any convincing evidence that Paterno tried to hide information from university officials or worked toward preventing an investigation into his longtime assistant Sandusky. Among the findings, the experts claimed the conclusions of the Freeh report “are based on raw speculation and unsupported opinion—not facts and evidence.”

The group of experts concludes that “the validity and thoroughness of the Freeh report was oversold to the public,” considering that he failed to interview key witnesses, his investigators didn’t have subpoena powers, and no one testified under oath, with witnesses allowed to speak anonymously, “something that would never happen in a legitimate legal proceeding.”

Freeh issued a statement Sunday saying that he respects the right of the Paterno family to hire experts “to conduct public media campaigns in an effort to shape the legacy of Joe Paterno.” But the “self-serving report the Paterno family has issued today does not change the facts established in the Freeh Report.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.