The Paterno family released their big response to the Freeh report Sunday morning, alleging it condemned Paterno based on (at best) circumstantial evidence and was for the mort part "factually wrong."
The Paterno family got three well-respected experts -- former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh, Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers, and former FBI profiler and child abuse prosecutor Jim Clemente -- to prepare their responses. In three separate reports, they challenge the validity of the Freeh report and the damage it's done to deceased former Penn State coach Joe Paterno's legacy.
"In short, Mr. Freeh unilaterally anointed himself the judge, jury and executioner by deciding to redefine Jerry Sandusky's personal crimes as a Penn State and Joe Paterno football scandal," Sollers writes in his report. "That bell can never be unrung, but the many associated errors can be corrected."
Paterno's legacy as a school institution and hero was tarnished, perhaps beyond repair, by the findings of the investigation carried out by former FBI chief Louis Freeh. Freeh's report alleged Paterno and other school officials conspired to cover up the child sexual abuse of former coach Jerry Sandusky. The report led to the NCAA slamming Penn State with unprecedented sanctions that nearly killed the football program Paterno had spent his life shaping.
The documents are the first step in a public relations push from the Paterno family. The three men who prepared the reports appeared on ESPN's Outside the Lines Sunday morning. Sue Paterno, the surviving wife of Joe Paterno, will appear on Katie Couric's talk show tomorrow. ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. reports this may all be a lead up to a lawsuit filed against the NCAA by Penn State alumnus, letterman, students, board of trustees members and the Paterno family.
Freeh isn't backing down, though. He released a statement Sunday morning defending his investigation. "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," he said.
You can check out the three separate reports released on behalf of the Paterno family here:
- Politics & Government
- Family & Relationships
- Joe Paterno
- Louis Freeh
- The Paterno
- Penn State