Editorial by John Ziegler–a must read!


Contrary to What You Have Heard, the Freeh Report has Big Problems

7/12/2012

As someone who has been critical of what I have perceived as the media’s rush to judgment against Joe Paterno in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, I was very eager to hear the results of the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh. My primary concern through all of this is that the case against Paterno for knowingly protecting a pedophile had not yet been truly proven. If it was, then I would be the first to admit that Paterno’s legacy would be rightly shattered and that his statue at Penn State should be uprooted.
Now that the report has come out and I (unlike the media at Freeh’s press conference) have actually had time to read it, I will acknowledge that the report raises some very serious questions about Paterno’s role. I now think that it is “probable” that Paterno deserves some level of condemnation for how he handled the Sandusky situation.
However, despite what you have heard in the news media, there are also some very significant problems with the report itself and, at least at this point, there is still a whole lot more speculative smoke than actual evidentiary fire in its findings.
The most glaring omission in the report is that Freeh did speak to any of the primary witnesses in the case. Not Paterno. Not Tim Curley. Not Mike McQueary (whom he referred to as “McQuade” in the press conference). Not Jerry Sandusky.
How can any investigation possibly be considered remotely complete or come to any legitimate conclusions without even speaking to any of the most important witnesses?
How can we possibly fully evaluate Paterno’s actions if we don’t know exactly what Mike McQueary (who, it must be pointed out, misremembered the year he witnessed the episode in the shower, an incident for which there is still no actual victim) told him? How can we possibly understand fairly vague emails without even hearing from the guy who wrote them?
Secondly, Freeh seems to promise far more in his press release/conclusions than he actually delivers in real evidence. Most of the media of course, at best, only read the summary and not the actual report. Thanks to that, it appears that most people have no idea that the real evidence backing up Freeh’s conclusions is, given the strong language he uses, remarkably thin.
The key pieces of new evidence (and frankly, maybe the only significant ones) against Paterno are two emails cited on pages 48 and 49 of the report which Freeh concludes are “clear” proof that Paterno was fully in the loop on the 1998 investigation of Sandusky which resulted in no criminal charges.
There is no doubt that if Paterno really knew about the 1998 investigation then any defense of him falls apart like a house of cards. This is because if he knew about 1998 then he had no reason to give Sandusky any benefit of the doubt in 2001 and he actually had a significant incentive to cover up the McQueary episode because there would have been a history of inaction. His credibility would also be shot because he essentially testified to the Grand Jury that he had no knowledge of the investigation.
However, Freeh is grotesquely overstating his evidence.
A close examination of these two emails raises significant questions as to what they actually mean. The first email is from athletic director Curley to the university president with the subject line “Joe Paterno.” As far as we know, the only content of the email was “I have touched base with the coach. Keep us posted. Thanks.”
Based on this, Freeh concludes that because the email was sent after Curley knew of the investigation into Sandusky that Sandusky had to be the subject of their “touching base.” Even if this wasn’t a bit of an evidentiary leap (which it is), we have no idea what “touching base” really means and, again, Freeh has never even spoken to Curley to find out. The president didn’t even remember this email, which he referred to as a “vague reference with no individual named.”
The second email is just as problematic. In it Curley writes to the head of campus police, “anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” Freeh writes, without any actual evidence that, “the reference to Coach is believed to be Paterno.” We are to assume that “is believed” really means “believed by Louis Freeh.”
Could “coach” be Paterno? Absolutely. But interestingly the subject line of the email (which Freeh uses in the first instance to substantiate that “coach” means Paterno) is “Jerry.” Why is it not plausible that “coach” there actually means Sandusky, who was still a coach at Penn State at the time? Freeh seems to completely forget that Sandusky was engaged in retirement negotiations at teh very same time and there there are many emails in his own record marked “Sandusky” which have nothing at all to do with the investigation. Is it not very plausible that this email had nothing at all to do with sexual abuse? If this were to be the case, this would dramatically change many of the presumptions on which the report bases its conclusions.
One of the many elements of the report which the media is completely missing (because they obviously haven’t bothered to actually read it) is that Freeh essentially exonerates Paterno on a very important point which has bothered many Paterno defenders since the beginning of this story.
The report seems to prove (much more conclusively than it does other elements) that Sandusky being told that he would never be the head coach at Penn State had nothing to do with any allegations of sexual abuse. In fact, Paterno told him this before the 1998 investigation even began and his own hand written notes make it clear that the reason was because Sandusky, ironically, refused to give up his position as the head of the Second Mile charity, which was the source of his victims. Unfortunately, it is being routinely reported today that the report indicates the Sandusky’s resignation was proof Paterno knew of the problem in 1998. In actuality, the exact opposite is true.
Similarly, much has been made of the previously leaked email from February 27th 2001 in which Curley seems to indicate a change in plans to not report Sandusky to higher authorities after having spoken to Paterno. Not yet mentioned in any media coverage that I have seen is that the report divulges (on page 63) the existence of a February 12th 2001 note in which Curley discusses with the head of campus police coming to the very same conclusion, well before any evidence of influence from Paterno.
Why does this not at least bring into question the real role Paterno had in that decision, especially when the “evidence” is based almost entirely on mind reading through vague emails?
Perhaps the strangest argument Freeh attempts to make is that Paterno’s response to McQueary (to whom Freeh has never spoken) is proof that Paterno was immediately in some sort of cover up mode because the head coach told McQueary, “Now we’ll see what we want to do.”
What is amazing about what a huge deal Freeh made about this in the report and at his press conference is that he acts as if there is a recording of that conversation and we have Paterno’s actual words (which are obviously incredibly important is a situation like this). But that is just not the case. All we have is the testimony of McQueary TEN years after the conversation took place! And again, this is the same guy who inexplicably got the YEAR of the actual incident wrong. How in the world can you possibly conclude anything significant based on such a tenuous recollection?
One of the most blatant errors in the report with regard to both facts as well as their interpretation comes with regard to the two Penn State janitors about whom Freeh spoke so glowingly at his press conference. Here Freeh exposes himself and his report to very credible charges of malpractice.
Freeh claims that two janitors saw something “horrific” in the Penn State locker room in 2000. He says that they didn’t report the episode because they were terrified of speaking of what they saw to Paterno because going up against the football program was like taking on the “President of the United States” and they feared being fired. Freeh then concludes that this fear proved that there was a “chilling effect” within the football program, which was, in it self, is evidence of a culture of corruption.
These assertions by Freeh are simply as laughable as they are inaccurate.
First of all, whether Freeh realizes it or not, his team has never spoken to the actual witness in the 2000 episode because the lone witness now has dementia. The other janitor who testified at trial did so under a hearsay exception and only told of what the other janitor told him. Secondly, neither janitor would have been reporting to Paterno. Thirdly, Sandusky was a former football coach at that time. Fourthly, Freeh seems to completely disregard the obvious reality that these janitors desperately need an explanation for why they didn’t report the episode and that their claiming “fear” of a now dead man (without a shred of evidence) should be looked at with great suspicion. Finally, it seems totally lost on Freeh that these janitors who didn’t report the episode at all are being treated by him as heroes while Paterno, who did at least report allegations which he didn’t even witness, is seen as a pedophile protector.
I want to make it clear that it is quite possible that Joe Paterno did indeed know more than he let on and enough to justify him doing more than he did to stop the monster that was Jerry Sandusky. It is even possible that he actively helped cover it up. But the truth is that the evidence that any of this happened is just not nearly as strong as the media or Louis Freeh are portraying it to be.
All I want is for the truth to come out. We may never get the full truth, but it is important that people understand that, while there may have been some important progress, we didn’t get nearly as much of it from the Freeh report as everyone seems to want to believe.

PENN STATE ISSUES STATEMENT ON FREEH REPORT


PENN STATE ISSUES STATEMENT ON FREEH REPORT

July 12, 2012, SCRANTON, PA – Today’s comprehensive report is sad and sobering in that it concludes that at the moment of truth, people in positions of authority and responsibility did not put the welfare of children first. The Board of Trustees, as the group that has paramount accountability for overseeing and ensuring the proper functioning and governance of the University, accepts full responsibility for the failures that occurred. The Board, in cooperation with the Administration, will take every action to ensure that events like these never happen again in our university community.

The focus of all of our actions going forward will be on driving a culture of honesty, integrity, responsible leadership and accountability at all levels and within all units of our institution.

Judge Freeh’s report concludes that certain people at the University who were in a position to protect children or confront the predator failed to do so. There can be no ambiguity about that. The defenseless victims and their families are at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers. We are deeply sorry for the failure to protect these vulnerable young boys from the pain and anguish they suffered. At the same time, we are filled with admiration for the bravery shown by the young men and their families who came forward to ensure that justice will be done.

While today’s issuance of the Freeh Report provides some level of clarity for our community, it does not undo the pain that the victims of Jerry Sandusky have experienced, and continue to experience. We will continue to offer counseling to Mr. Sandusky’s victims, listen to them and take affirmative steps to address the harm they have suffered.

Beyond our campuses, the University is undertaking a number of actions to help build greater awareness of the societal issue of child sexual abuse. We are partnering with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and have also created the Center for the Protection of Children at the Hershey Medical Center. Penn State University intends to be a constructive leader in preventing, reporting and responding to such abuse. This is a problem that plagues our nation, and we have a special duty to increase awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse.

Judge Freeh’s investigation was intended to identify where failures occurred and what changes should be made for the future. As the Freeh report noted, the University has already taken steps to begin addressing some of the shortcomings.

The Board of Trustees acknowledges that it failed to create an environment of accountability and transparency and did not have optimal reporting procedures or committee structures. Beginning in March 2011 and continuing until the publication of the Grand Jury presentment in November 2011, the Board failed to make proper inquiry of President Spanier and others regarding the Sandusky matter. As a result, the Board was unprepared to deal with the events that occurred in November 2011.

The Board has begun taking a more active oversight role and has implemented specific oversight committees, focused on Risk, Audit, Legal, Compliance, Academic Excellence, Governance and Human Resources. Furthermore, the Board is committed to greater transparency and communications with the entire University community.

Additionally, the University Administration has strengthened policies and programs involving minors, child abuse and mandated reporter training; ensuring a process for prompt reporting of abuse and sexual misconduct; hiring a new, full-time Clery Compliance Coordinator and providing Clery Act training for employees; and establishing a position of, and commencing a national search for, a director of University Compliance. Further information can be found here: www.progress.psu.edu.

In the weeks ahead, the University will carefully review and consider each of the report’s recommendations. Tomorrow at its regularly scheduled meeting, the Board of Trustees will consider a series of immediate next steps. President Rodney Erickson has appointed three members of his senior leadership team to coordinate and implement operational changes suggested by the Freeh Report.

As the Freeh Report notes Penn State “is an outstanding institution, nationally renowned for its excellence in academics and research.” Nothing in this report detracts from the many significant accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. We also remain proud of the accomplishments of Penn State’s student athletes over many years, and we reaffirm the fundamental premise that academic excellence and athletic achievement are wholly consistent and complementary goals.

With the release of the Freeh Report we are beginning to correct our failures, promote healing and build a stronger tomorrow for Penn State. We are continuing the process of addressing the most painful chapter in the University’s history so that we can heal and move forward.

A MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES


Today with the report released by Judge Louis Freeh, the Penn State Board of Trustees delivered on the commitment we made last November when we engaged Judge Freeh to conduct an independent investigation into the University’s actions regarding former Penn State employee, Jerry Sandusky, and the handling of allegations of the child abusecrimes of which he has since been found guilty.Judge Freeh and his team conducted a rigorous, eight-month investigation into all aspects of the University’s actions to determine where breakdowns occurred and what changes should be made for the future. We like many others have eagerly anticipated Judge Freeh’s Report of the findings of his investigation.His report has just been released at http://thefreehreportonpsu.com/ and we currently are reviewing his findings and recommendations. We expect a comprehensive analysis of our policies, procedures and controls related to identifying and reporting crimes and misconduct, including failures or gaps that may have allowed alleged misconduct to go undetected or unreported. We will provide our initial response later today.

We want to ensure we are giving the report careful scrutiny and consideration before making any announcements or recommendations. We are convening an internal team comprising the Board of Trustees, University administration and our legal counsel to begin analyzing the report and digesting Judge Freeh’s findings.

As we anticipate the review and approval process will take some time, our initial response and immediate next steps will be presented at 3:30 at the Dayton/Taylor Conference Room at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center.

These top-line reactions will provide an overview of our process for developing and implementing a plan once we have studied the report and have a better understanding of what it means and how we can implement findings to strengthen Penn State’s role as a leading academic institution and ensure that what occurred will never be allowed to happen again.

Paterno’s Words Resonate to ALL Alumni of Penn State


Forget my career in terms of my accomplishments and look at the last 40 years as I do:  as the aggregate achievements of hundreds of young men working to become better people as they got an education and became better football players.  Look at those men and what they have done in the world since they left Penn State and assess their contributions as an aggregate – is this a collection of jocks who did nothing but skate by at a football factory, or are these men who earned an education and built a reputation second to none as a place where academic integrity and gridiron success could thrive together?

Whatever failings that may have happened at Penn State, whatever conclusions about my or others’ conduct you may wish to draw from a fair view of the allegations, it is inarguable that these actions had nothing to do with this last team or any of the hundreds of prior graduates of the “Grand Experiment.”

Penn Staters across the globe should feel no shame in saying “We are…Penn State.”  This is a great University with one of the best academic performing football programs in major college athletics.  Those are facts – and nothing that has been alleged changes them