Paterno's Family and Former Penn State Prez Criticize Internal Investigation

PHOTO: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittny Lions prepares to play the Florida Gators prior to the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.
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The family of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and lawyers representing the school's former president are lashing out at the internal investigation into how the university handled child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

The results of the investigation, led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, will be released Thursday morning.

Today, Paterno's family released a statement to the Associated Press criticizing parts the investigation, while former president Graham Spanier's attorneys have filed a lawsuit against Penn State, claiming that investigators have refused to share emails that Spanier wrote more than a decade ago.

The release of the report Thursday morning follows weeks of speculation about the investigation's reported focus on Paterno, who died in January. Emails leaked to media outlets have shown that investigators are looking into whether Paterno played an active role in deciding not to report Sandusky to the police in 2001, after Paterno and other top officials were informed of child sex abuse allegations.

In one email reported by CNN, athletic director Tim Curley wrote to Spanier and vice president Gary Schultz that he had discussed the allegations against Sandusky with "Joe," and that Curley did not feel comfortable with "what we agreed were the next steps." The men ultimately did not report the allegations to authorities, leading to speculation that Paterno and Curley had changed their minds about calling the police.

Attorneys for Curley and Schultz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other emails released to CNN showed that a former vice president of student affairs had butted heads with Paterno over his need to control the discipline of the football team's players. Vicky Triponey begged administrators to step in and curb Paterno's "manipulative" and "abusive" behavior, in which he tried to wrestle authority over disciplinary decisions away from her.

She ultimately resigned from the university. Triponey's husband told ABC News she declined to comment.

Today, Paterno's family released a statement saying that the controlled leaks of emails to the media has been unfair to Paterno.

"What cannot be disputed," the statement read, "is that select emails intended to smear Joe Paterno and other former Penn State officials have been released. Testimony from witnesses highly critical of Joe has been revealed. And purported conclusions condemning the culture of the football program have been widely disseminated. The Board promised a fair, transparent and impartial process. These developments are a threat to their stated objectives."

The statement mentioned multiple times that Paterno's family felt they should have been invited to meet with Freeh and his team to discuss the investigation as well as the leaks of certain documents, but the Freeh group denied their requests.

"We would still welcome a chance to meet with the Freeh Group to review the findings and offer a response. We do not seek or expect the right to edit the report; but we believe our voice should be reflected in its conclusions," the statement read.

Paterno's family said that they were not given an advanced copy of Freeh's findings, and must therefore read the documents Thursday as they are released and then respond to the portrayal of Paterno. In anticipation of the findings, however, the family reiterated that Paterno had admitted before he died that he wished he had done more to stop Sandusky, and then noted that Sandusky was a very deceptive man.

"To this point, Joe Paterno is the only person who publicly acknowledged that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. This was an honest and courageous admission that a true leader must assume a measure of responsibility when something goes wrong on his watch," it read. "The sad and frightening fact is Jerry Sandusky was a master deceiver."

Spanier also made clear in his lawsuit, filed today, that he requested to meet with Freeh's investigators and, as part of that, requested to see his old emails from the time in question. The Freeh group refused to give him the emails, telling Spanier's lawyers that the Attorney General's office barred them from sharing the information because of its ongoing investigation.

Penn State's internal investigation was commissioned by the university's board of trustees in November, after the allegations shook the Penn State campus, caused riots, and raised questions about why no one at the university ever reported Sandusky.

Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts of child abuse, many of which took place on Penn State's campus.

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