Family: Paterno made mistakes, but did not protect Sandusky

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The family of Joe Paterno says the late Penn State football coach made mistakes and regretted them, but did not protect Jerry
Sandusky to avoid bad publicity.

In a statement released Thursday, Paterno's family called Sandusky a “great deceiver” who fooled everyone from law enforcement and his family to officials at Penn State and The Second Mile.

“If Joe Paterno had
understood what Sandusky was, a fear of bad publicity would not have
factored into his actions,” the family said in the statement.

The statement followed the release of a Penn State internal investigation, led by former FBI director and federal judge Louis
Freeh, that found the university's most powerful men failed to protect
the children victimized by the former assistant football coach for 14
years.

Freeh's report said Penn State president Graham Spanier,
head football coach Joe Paterno, vice president Gary Schultz, and
athletic director Tim Curley “repeatedly concealed critical facts
relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of
Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large.”

“Joe Paterno mistakenly believed that investigators, law enforcement
officials, university leaders and others would properly and fully
investigate any issue and proceed as the facts dictated,” the family said. “This didn't happen and everyone shares the responsibility.”

 

The family's statement is as follows:

“We are in the process of reviewing the Freeh report and will need some time before we can comment in depth on its findings and conclusions. From the moment this crisis broke, Joe Paterno supported a comprehensive, fair investigation. He always believed, as we do, that the full truth should be uncovered.

From what we have been able to assess at this time, it appears that after reviewing 3 million documents and conducting more than 400 interviews, the underlying facts as summarized in the report are almost entirely consistent with what we understood them to be. The 1998 incident was reported to law enforcement and investigated. Joe Paterno reported what he was told about the 2001 incident to Penn State authorities and he believed it would be fully investigated. The investigation also confirmed that Sandusky's retirement in 1999 was unrelated to these events.

One great risk in this situation is a replaying of events from the last 15 years or so in a way that makes it look obvious what everyone must have known and should have done. The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept. The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn't fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events. Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone – law enforcement, his family, coaches, players, neighbors, University officials, and everyone at Second Mile.

Joe Paterno wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he regretted them. He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. To think, however, that he would have protected Jerry Sandusky to avoid bad publicity is simply not realistic. If Joe Paterno had understood what Sandusky was, a fear of bad publicity would not have factored into his actions.

We appreciate the effort that was put into this investigation. The issue we have with some of the conclusions is that they represent a judgment on motives and intentions and we think this is impossible. We have said from the beginning that Joe Paterno did not know Jerry Sandusky was a child predator. Moreover, Joe Paterno never interfered with any investigation. He immediately and accurately reported the incident he was told about in 2001.

It can be argued that Joe Paterno should have gone further. He should have pushed his superiors to see that they were doing their jobs. We accept this criticism. At the same time, Joe Paterno and everyone else knew that Sandusky had been repeatedly investigated by authorities who approved his multiple adoptions and foster children. Joe Paterno mistakenly believed that investigators, law enforcement officials, University leaders and others would properly and fully investigate any issue and proceed as the facts dictated.

This didn't happen and everyone shares the responsibility.”

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