Paterno's family challenges Freeh report

Jerry Sandusky: More victims?
Jerry Sandusky: More victims?
Posted: July 18, 2012

THE FAMILY of Joe Paterno is throwing the red challenge flag.

In the wake of last week's scathing Freeh report that ran roughshod over the legacy of the late Penn State football icon and his handling of the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal, Paterno's relatives said Monday that the report by former FBI chief Louis Freeh was flawed and that they plan to commission their own probe.

"We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed," said a statement issued by the family. "Mr. Freeh presented his opinions and interpretations as if they were absolute facts."

The 267-page Freeh report was commissioned by Penn State's board of trustees last fall after the scandal that led to the conviction of Paterno's former top assistant on charges of molesting 10 boys. It strongly faulted Paterno and top administrators for their failure to act forcefully after learning of lurid allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.

The fresh allegations in the scandal that has rocked Happy Valley for the last nine months have rekindled the debate over college football's winningest coach, who died of lung cancer in January at age 85. There have been calls to take down the prominent statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium. His name was removed from a child-care center at Nike headquarters in Oregon, and the artist removed the halo from Paterno's likeness in a giant mural in State College.

"The announcement of the findings by the Freeh Group is yet another shocking turn of events in this crisis," the Paterno family said in its statement. It also said that the family has asked the Freeh panel to save all relevant materials from its report and that the family has instructed its attorneys to review the Freeh report and go beyond Freeh's work to uncover new evidence.

"Our interest has been and remains the uncovering of the truth," the family statement said, adding later: "To those who are convinced that the Freeh report is the last word on this matter, that is absolutely not the case."

The Paterno family's vow for its own probe came on day that included other news that the showed the scandal is not dying down.

In another development, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that investigators have spoken with three other men who've come forward to say that they were abused by Sandusky. The new report is significant because the allegations would take Sandusky's trail of abuse back in time to the 1970s.

If true, these allegations would mean that Sandusky started to molest boys when he was in his late 20s, if not younger. The Patriot-News report noted that one aspect of the Sandusky defense was that the previously known allegations dated only to 1994 and that it made little sense that he suddenly became a pedophile in middle age. n

Contact Will Bunch at 215-854-2957 or bunchw@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter: @Will_Bunch. Read his blog, Attytood.com

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