The family of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno announced today that it plans to conduct its own investigation into the report that concluded that Paterno and other top Penn State officials worked to conceal Jerry Sandusky's long-running alleged sexual abuse to protect the school from negative attention. The report was compiled by former FBI chief Louis Freeh.
"We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed," the family said of the report. "We believe numerous issues in the report, and [Freeh's] commentary, bear further review."
After the report was released on July 12, the family it consulted its attorneys to perform their own review, calling the findings "another shocking turn of events in this crisis."
"To those who are convinced that the Freeh report is the last word on this matter, that is absolutely not the case," the family said. "With that said, we want to take this opportunity to reiterate that Joe Paterno did not shield Jerry Sandusky from any investigation or review.
"To help prevent this sort of tragedy from happening again at Penn State or any other institution, it is imperative that the full story be told," they said.
The 267-page Freeh report was an indictment of how Penn State officials, including Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley, and former vice president for finance Gary Schultz handled Sandusky's behavior.
"What's shocking is that the four of them, the most powerful people at Penn State University, made the decision to conceal this," Freeh said at a press conference following the report's release.
"The motivation [was] to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, and not just bad publicity, but what are the consequences -- other investigations, donors being upset, the university community being very upset -- raising questions about what they themselves did in 1998," Freeh said. "Bad publicity has consequences for the brand of Penn State University, the reputation of coaches, the ability to do fundraising. It's got huge implications."
Freeh's report revealed for the first time that all four men knew about the 1998 investigation that said Sandusky had been seen showering with a young boy. It said they made a careful decision after a 2001 allegation of sexual abuse not to report it to police. The investigation included 430 interviews and reviews of 3.5 million emails and other documents.
The report also singled out the university's board of trustees for oversight failures and promoting a culture where dissent was discouraged.
Penn State trustee Kenneth Frazier and new board chairwoman Karen Peetz said the board accepted responsibility for allowing the four men the power to conceal the allegations against Sandusky.
"The board of trustees, as a group, has paramount accountability for overseeing and ensuring the proper functioning and governance of the university, and accepts full responsibility for failures that have occurred," Peetz said.
She said members would work quickly to adopt all of Freeh's recommendations for how to increase oversight of administrators and ensure crimes like Sandusky's cannot happen on campus again.
"Accepting full accountability means that not only are we taking blame, if you will, for these events, but that we are also determined to fix the governance," Peetz said.
Freeh sidestepped questions about whether trustees ought to quit if they were on the board during the 14-year period when the incidents were said to have occurred. Board members have steadfastly rejected calls for the full board's resignation.
When asked whether the university would reevaluate how it honors Paterno, Frazier and Peetz said no decision had been made yet. There is a statue of Paterno on campus, and buildings are named for him.
"The whole topic of Joe Paterno being honored or not being honored is sensitive and has been dialogued for some time," Peetz said. "We believed, with the report's findings, it's something that needs to continue to be discussed with the entire university, not just the board."
The report also found that after learning of the abuse, university leaders rewarded Sandusky with an unusual $168,000 payout and retirement perks without lifting a finger to reach out to his young victims, who were forced to perform sex acts and raped in showers at the college.
The investigation report revealed emails traded among Spanier, Schultz and Curley in which the three men discussed the investigations into Sandusky and mentioned Paterno's involvement in decisions about Sandusky.
Emails and notes from 1998 show that after the mother of the man known as Victim 6 contacted the university police department to report that Sandusky had showered with her son on campus, Schultz notified Spanier and Curley of the incident and wrote in his notes that it was "at best inappropriate, @ worst sexual improprieties." He asked, "Is this the opening of Pandora's box? Other children?"
Curley wrote an email in response to the investigation, saying "the coach" was "anxious to know where it stands."
Schultz, Paterno, and Spanier all later said that they were never informed of a 1998 incident that involved sexual or inappropriate touching.
The investigation did not yield charges against Sandusky, a result that Freeh said he wanted to discuss with the assistant district attorney who was part of that decision-making process. That assistant DA refused to be interviewed as part of Freeh's investigation.
"What's striking about 1998 is that nobody even spoke to Sandusky, not one of those four persons, including the coach, who was four steps away from [Sandusky's] office," Freeh said.