The university has pledged to become a world center for the study of
sexual abuse and recently held a major symposium on the topic.
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, which seeks to oust trustees who joined in Paterno's firing, credited the family "for filling the obvious void in Penn State leadership and seeking the real truth."
The trustees hired Freeh "to create a false narrative intended to back up their rush to judgment" but "the Paterno Report clearly does the opposite," the group said. It called on Freeh to publicly explain his methodology and evidence.
The Freeh report marshaled enormous evidence, including e-mails, interviews, and long-hidden notes, concluding that Paterno, former university president Graham B. Spanier, and two other top administrators conspired for more than a decade to keep quiet the sex-abuse allegations against Sandusky.
Fearing bad publicity, the coach and the president, along with athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a vice president in charge of campus police, "repeatedly concealed critical facts" and exhibited a "callous disregard for child victims," Freeh said. That enabled Sandusky, a former assistant coach, to prey on boys for years, Freeh said.
Sandusky is in prison serving what amounts to a life sentence.
Freeh's inquiry found Penn State had a culture of deference to figures such as Paterno and Spanier, even as they failed in their roles.
Freeh said on Sunday that Paterno "was on notice for at least 13 years that Sandusky, one of his longest-serving assistants, and whose office was steps away, was a probable serial pedophile."
The new report, totaling more than 200 pages, denied any Paterno role in a cover-up and affirmed his standing as scrupulously honest and forthright. Specifically, it said:
Paterno participated in no conspiracy to hide Sandusky's actions.
There's no evidence the football culture at Penn State contributed to Sandusky's crimes.
Freeh investigators had no subpoena power and no one testified under oath. Some witnesses were allowed to speak anonymously.
The string of e-mails that contributed to Freeh's finding of conspiracy "falls apart under scrutiny." The e-mails show "Paterno knew few details about Sandusky, that he acted in good faith, and that he did what he thought was right based on what he knew at the time."
The limits of the Freeh investigation "were numerous and fatal to fundamental fairness," the report said, creating a "rush to injustice" that solidified a false narrative about Paterno.
"Joe Paterno's last written words before his death focused on the victims of Jerry Sandusky," the report said, noting how in a handwritten note, he said the "good side" of the scandal was greater national attention on child abuse.
On ESPN, Thornburgh said that he respected Freeh, but that the report was "full of inaccuracies" and left "much overlooked, much misrepresented."
Former FBI profiler Jim Clemente said Sandusky alone was responsible for the crimes. "Sandusky got away with what he did because he's a skillful manipulator," he said.
Joe Paterno died from complications of lung cancer in January 2012. The three former university officials await trial, and maintain their innocence.
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