The accusations leveled against Joe Paterno for his alleged involvement in the cover-up of a sexual predator while head football coach at Penn State University were "factually wrong, speculative and fundamentally flawed," according to a report issued by the family this morning.
The Paterno family's team report, led by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, concluded the Freeh report, which stated that Paterno and school officials had known about allegations of child abuse directed at former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky as early as 1998 and didn't disclose them, "was a failure that does not meet the basic requirements of a thorough, objective and fair investigation."
“The Freeh report is a profound failure,” said Washington Attorney Wick Sollers, a member of the Paterno family team. “It isn't a little wrong on the minor issues. It is totally wrong on the most critical issues. That the Board and the NCAA relied on this report, without appropriate review or analysis, is a miscarriage of justice.”
Posted on www.Paterno.com, "Paterno - The Record," was commissioned by Paterno's widow, Sue. Along with Thornburgh, the team included former top FBI profiler Jim Clemente, prominent Washington Attorney Wick Sollers and Fred Berlin, the director of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh conducted an independent investigation sanctioned by the Penn State board that was released in July 2012. The report stated that school president Graham Spanier and Paterno, along with Athletic Director Tim Curley and school vice president Gary Schultz, showed a disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims" for 14 years and "empowered" Jerry Sandusky to continue his abuse.
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Freeh Sunday said in a news release that he "respect(s) 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."
"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," he wrote. "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."
Update: Paterno family fires back at Freeh – again
A member of the team the Paterno family hired to investigate the validity of the Louis Freeh report said in a statement this afternoon that Freeh’s comments on the Paterno Family’s independent investigation were troubling.
“Mr. Freeh's attack on the report this morning should trouble everyone who wants the truth on the Sandusky scandal,” said Washington Attorney Wick Sollers. “He criticizes a report he obviously hadn't had time to read and consider. And he refuses to address the critical factual and procedural failures in his own report, particularly his flawed conclusions which have only added to this tragedy.
Freeh critized "Paterno - The Record," which was commissioned by Paterno's widow, Sue. Along with Sollers, the team included former top FBI profiler Jim Clemente, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Fred Berlin, the director of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit.
Freeh said this morning in a release that he stands by the conclusions.
“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,” Freeh said.
Freeh said that during his investigation he contacted Joe Paterno's attorney with requests to interview the former Penn State Football coach.
“Although Mr. Paterno was willing to speak with a news reporter and his biographer at that time, he elected not to speak with us,” Freeh said. “We also asked Mr. Paterno's attorney to provide us with any evidence that he and his client felt should be considered. The documents provided were included in our report.”
Sollers said the assertion that the Paterno family declined to cooperate with his investigators “is an unfortunate distortion of the truth.”
“I personally met with the Freeh team and pledged full cooperation,” Sollers said. “Joe Paterno's cancer diagnosis, treatment and subsequent death prevented him from being interviewed. But Jay Paterno was interviewed and I shared additional information available to me.
“Being angry does not constitute a defense of poor work. A failure to consider the facts carefully is exactly the problem our expert analysis highlights. I encourage everyone, including Mr. Freeh, to take the time to study this report,” Sollers added.