Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno watches his team during practice on November 9, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania.
(November 8, 2011 – Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America)
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno didn’t cover up for retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky when he was accused of molesting boys and didn’t act to hinder an investigation of him, Paterno’s family said Tuesday.
Paterno’s family also called Sandusky, who was convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys, some on campus, a “master deceiver” in a lengthy statement released after former FBI director Louis Freeh announced he would unveil the findings of his investigation into the scandal on Thursday.
Freeh was hired to investigate by the Penn State trustees, who ousted Paterno days after Sandusky was arrested in November.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of 45 criminal counts. He maintains his innocence.
Paterno’s family said Paterno “did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile.”
“Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky,” the family said. “To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth.”
Paterno’s family said the Freeh team declined its offer to respond to recent news leaks after the family asked to review the findings.
The Hall of Fame coach supported the trustees’ decision to hire Freeh to conduct a thorough investigation, but the recent leaks raised questions about fairness and confidentiality, the family said.
Paterno had issued in December a statement that said he relayed graduate assistant Mike McQueary’s report in 2001 of seeing Sandusky with a boy in the team shower to athletic director Tim Curley and “that was the last time the matter was brought to my attention.”
CNN reported last week on an excerpted email from Curley in which he indicated he changed his mind about going to child welfare authorities after speaking with Paterno. The report led to renewed public scrutiny on whether the longtime coach took a more active role in the decision than what he described.
The family said the “media spin that this is proof of some sort of cover up is completely false.”
“When the facts come out,” the family said, “it will be clear that Joe Paterno never gave Tim Curley any instructions to protect Sandusky or limit any investigation of his actions.”
Paterno, his family said, never got a chance to present his case to the university before he died in January of lung cancer at age 85.
The coach had described the abuse scandal as one of the great sorrows of his life. Just before his firing, he acknowledged he wished he had done more after hearing about the allegations against Sandusky. His family said he is the only person to publicly acknowledge that sentiment.
Curley and retired Penn State vice president Gary Schultz are awaiting trial on charges they failed to properly report suspected child abuse and lied to a grand jury in the Sandusky case. They deny the allegations against them and have sought to have the charges dismissed.
Ex-PSU president says he was never told of abuse
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State president Graham Spanier told investigators hired by the university that he was never informed that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was spotted molesting a boy in a school shower, his lawyers said Tuesday as they rebutted reports that indicate the deposed official could have tried to cover up the abuse that ultimately led to coach Joe Paterno’s firing.
The attorneys said Spanier made the comments Friday to investigators for former FBI director Louis Freeh, who was hired by the university to find out what school officials, including Paterno, knew about the child molester in their midst. Freeh’s findings are expected to be released soon.
Both Spanier and the Hall of Fame coach were ousted by school trustees a few days after Sandusky was arrested in November. Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month on 45 criminal counts.
“At no time in the more than 16 years of his presidency at Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct or criminality of any kind, and he reiterated that during his interview with Louis Freeh and his colleagues,” said a statement from the lawyers, Peter Vaira and Elizabeth Ainslie.
Spanier declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press and deferred to the statement.
His comments to the Freeh group echoed his testimony before the state grand jury looking into Sandusky. That testimony concerned graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary’s report of seeing the retired defensive coordinator in the football team shower with a boy in 2001. Spanier was notified about the report by Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz, who oversaw campus police.
A grand jury report said Spanier testified that the two men came to him “to report an incident with Jerry Sandusky that made a member of Curley’s staff `uncomfortable.”‘ The grand jury said Spanier described it as Sandusky in a football team locker room “with a younger child and that they were horsing around in the shower.”
The grand jury report said that even in April 2011 – presumably the date of his appearance before the grand jury – Spanier did not know that the staff member was McQueary.
“Spanier denied that it was reported to him as an incident that was sexual in nature and acknowledged that Curley and Schultz had not indicated any plan” to contact police or child welfare authorities, the jury said. Spanier also said he was not aware Sandusky had been investigated in 1998.
Sandusky was convicted last month of charges related to the 2001 incident, as well as abuse of nine other children.
The extent of Spanier’s involvement has come under scrutiny recently after CNN reported on emails that said Spanier was “supportive” of a decision by Curley and Schultz not to report the incident. Spanier warned, however, that they might “become vulnerable for not having reported it,” CNN said.
Spanier’s lawyers said the emails were selectively leaked without the full context, and were “distorting the public record and creating a false picture.”
In May, Spanier filed a related civil lawsuit against Penn State seeking access to old work emails so he could better prepare for the school’s internal investigation. A university lawyer responded that state prosecutors asked the school not to share the emails so that the ongoing investigation would not be compromised.
A court hearing on the case is scheduled for Aug. 17, but Spanier went ahead and requested to speak to Freeh’s team. His lawyers said they would revisit the issue of the lawsuit now that the interview has taken place.
Spanier has said he turned in his resignation in November, while trustees have said he did not resign but rather was terminated without cause.
“Since November of last year, when he resigned his presidency, he has wanted the Freeh Group to create an accurate report and has been determined to assist in any way he can,” said the statement from Spanier’s lawyers. They ended their four-paragraph statement by saying they remained “hopeful that truth and reason prevail.”