A massive new report sponsored by the family of Joe Paterno ignited new
controversy and recriminations Sunday as it sought to exonerate the late Penn
State football coach of accusations that he covered up sexual-abuse
allegations against Jerry Sandusky.
The authors of the study, who include former U.S. attorney general and Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh, denounced the accusing Freeh report as inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading. They said that Paterno did nothing wrong, and that the football program, hit with extraordinary penalties by the NCAA, was similarly blameless.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, retained by the university to conduct an impartial investigation, said "the self-serving report the Paterno family has issued today does not change the facts established in the Freeh Report."
"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," Freeh said in a statement.
The new report drew national attention to a story seemingly without end: The dismissal, and dismantling of the reputation of the man who was once Pennsylvania State University's best-known and most-popular employee.
The new study, called "Paterno -- The Record," was commissioned by the coach's widow, Sue Paterno, and compiled by agents selected and retained by her Washington lawyer, Wick Sollers. It was posted Sunday on www.Paterno.com and simultaneously discussed on ESPN, part of a major effort by the Paterno family to restore the coach's reputation. On Monday, Sue Paterno will be interviewed by Katie Couric on ABC.
Penn State officials said in a statement it was "understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh report." But the school, which accepted the findings, intends to move ahead with implementing "substantially all" the recommendations in the report by the end of 2013.
Family spokesman Dan McGinn, a public-relations professional in the Washington suburbs, was asked what the Paternos want of the report's release.
"They want people to read this report," he said in an interview. "Everybody should read the report and reexamine the situation. . . . We're really hopeful the NCAA and board of trustees will carefully and thoughtfully reexamine the situation."
People should accept the report as unbiased, he said, because the Paternos played no role in the selection of the experts and had no contact with them as they worked. The integrity of someone such as Thornburgh is evident, he said.
Officials at MaleSurvivor, a New York nonprofit that works to prevent sexual abuse, responded to the new report by saying they were unaware of any specific actions the Paterno family had taken to support Sandusky's victims or abuse victims in general.
"It's very telling to me that in a five-page summary of this report, all about trying to clear Joe Paterno's name, there's one sentence at the end that barely gives lip service, 'We're really concerned about the survivors,' " executive director Christopher Anderson said in an interview. "I'd very much like to see the Paternos engage with people in the advocacy world in the same way that Penn State has been engaging."
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