Louis Freeh swung the media lap dogs and the court of public opinion to believe that Joe Paterno is a liar. The Penn State Board of Trustees didn’t protest the “facts” provided by Louis Freeh, and, as a result the NCAA used the Freeh Report to levy some serious penalties against the Penn State football program.
But should you believe Louis Freeh?
Well, let’s examine who said what and rate the level of truthfulness using the scale below:
True – Mostly True – Half True- Mostly False – False – Pants on Fire
Let’s start with Joe’s biggest “lie” that caused the vacating of his wins since 1998, that he was not aware of allegations of sexual abuse against Sandusky in 1998. At the January 2011 Grand Jury, Paterno was asked: “Other than the [incident] that Mike McQueary reported to you, do you know in any way, through rumor, direct knowledge, or any other fashion, of any inappropriate sexual conduct by Jerry Sandusky with young boys.” (My emphasis added)
Paterno: “I do not know of anything else that Jerry would be involved in of that nature, no. I do not know of it. You did mention – I think you said something about a rumor. It may have been discussed in my presence, something else about somebody. I don’t know. I don’t remember, and I could not honestly say I heard a rumor.”
Analysis: Joe Paterno is asked a very specific question about inappropriate sexual conduct about Sandusky that he answers negatively. Let’s examine the evidence: From Exhibits in the Freeh Report
Exhibits 2H and 2I are handwritten notes of Gary Schultz that contain details of what happened in the shower. Freeh states he does not know who was present at this meeting.
Exhibit 2A, an e-mail exchange titled “Re: Joe Paterno” between Curley and Schultz, reveals Curley has “touched base with the coach” and that “Public Welfare” will interview the individual.
Exhibit 2B, an e-mail series Titled "Re Jerry" between Curley and Schultz discuss DPW plans to interview the children and Jerry, however they contain no details about the allegations.
Exhibit 2C reflects Tim Curley asking Schultz for updates, with Curley stating “Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” No updates are provided to Curley in this exchange.
Exhibit 2E, from Schultz to Curley, copying Spanier, states that no crime was committed and that Jerry was concerned about how the investigation affected the child. The e-mail does not state what the investigation entailed. The Freeh Report states the “record is not clear as to how the conclusion of the Sandusky investigation was revealed to Paterno” (page 51).
Conclusion: There is no direct evidence that Paterno (or Curley and Spanier, for that matter) were ever told the details of the investigation. Considering that investigations of sex crimes involving juvenile victims are typically conducted in a confidential manner, it is very likely that the details of this investigation stopped with Gary Schultz and were not provided to Curley, Spanier, and Paterno.
The Verdict: True
The second “lie” told by Paterno is that he was not involved in the follow-up or decisions involving the 2001 incident. It is based this statement from the Sally Jenkins, Washington Post interview when he was asked why he didn’t follow-up more aggressively after reporting this incident to his boss, Tim Curley.
Paterno: “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he said. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”
Analysis: Exhibit 5G is an e-mail chain between Gary Schultz, Graham Spanier, and Tim Curley, discussing the actions to be taken in response to the 2001 incident. Within the e-mail, on 27 February 2001, Tim Curley states, “After giving it more thought, and talking it over with Joe yesterday – I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.” The inference is that Paterno stepped in and changed the course of action on February 26th. The Freeh Report identifies a total of five meetings between Schultz, Curley, and Spanier concerning the incident and none of the meetings involved Joe Paterno. The report also includes e-mails or references to e-mails from February 12, 22, 26, 27, and 28 none of which included Joe Paterno as an addressee or a courtesy copy.
Conclusion: There are ten instances where PSU officials were deliberating about the actions to be taken regarding the 2001 incident and among those incidents there is only one reference to Paterno. Freeh does not know the extent of the conversation – whether it was 10 minutes of 10 seconds long – and he doesn’t know what either Paterno or Curley said. However, the overwhelming evidence in the Freeh Report shows that Paterno was rarely consulted about the 2001 incident.
The Verdict: Mostly True
Joe Paterno Results: 1 True, 1 Mostly True
Mr. Freeh’s report and press conference comments have been taken as the gospel by the media, the public, and the PSU administration. Let’s see how some of his statements they hold up under examination.
Freeh: “The most powerful leaders and the University – Spanier, Schultz, Paterno, and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the University’s Board of Trustees, the Penn State Community, and the public at large.”
Analysis: While it is a fact that top PSU officials did not report the 2001 incident from the parties mentioned above, this is the only incident of Sandusky’s child abuse of which they were aware. The 1998 investigation, conducted by the police, DPW, and CYS concluded there was no child abuse, thus PSU officials had nothing to report to the BOT and fully worked with the authorities.
Conclusion: There was nothing to report in 1998; therefore officials did not repeatedly conceal information.
The Verdict: Half-Truth
Other statements that would fall under the category of Half-Truth for similar reasoning are:
Freeh: “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.” (from Press Conference) “By not promptly reporting and fully advising the BOT about the 1998 and 2001 child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky…” (from page 15 of the report).
“The Board also failed in its duties to oversee the President and senior university officials in 1998 (page 15).
Freeh: “The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely…”
Analysis: Exhibit 2A, an e-mail exchange of May 5 and 6, titled “Re: Joe Paterno” between Curley and Schultz, reveals Curley has “touched base with the coach” and that “Public Welfare” will interview the individual.
Exhibit 2C and e-mail titled "Re: Jerry", reflects Tim Curley asking Schultz for updates, with Curley stating “Coach is anxious to know where it stands” on 5/13/2998. There is no evidence of Joe Paterno receiving a single update. The Freeh Report states the “record is not clear as to how the conclusion of the Sandusky investigation was revealed to Paterno” (page 51).
Conclusion: While Paterno was informed of an investigation, it is impossible – based on the evidence - to conclude he ever received an update or was advised of the outcome. He did not follow the investigation closely.
Verdict: 2 Pants on Fire
Other statements made by Freeh that fall under the category of Pants on Fire for similar reasons are:
Freeh: “Spanier….Paterno…were kept informed of the investigation.” (page 39).
Freeh: “Based on the evidence, the only known, intervening factor between the decision made on February 25, 2001 by Messrs. Spanier, Curley and Schulz to report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare, and then agreeing not to do so on February 27th, was Mr. Paterno’s February 26th conversation with Mr. Curley.” (from the press conference)
Analysis: It is true that on February 26th, Tim Curley had a discussion with Joe Paterno and on February 27th, Curley had changed his mind. However, it is notable that Mr. Freeh’s statement ignores evidence that shows Curley and Schultz considered reporting the incident to DPW as an optional requirement as early as February 12 (page63) Freeh also ignores the statements of Graham Spanier to the Special Investigative Counsel that he met only with Curley on February 25 and Spanier denied that they discussed reporting to DPW (page 73). Freeh also ignores the fact that the Pennsylvania child abuse reporting law in 2002 did not require PSU to make a report to DPW, because Penn State was not in the care of the child in any official capacity.
Conclusion: It is unclear whether Curley, Schultz, and Spanier ever reached agreement to report the incident to DPW. While Schultz promoted the reporting to DPW, there is no evidence to suggest that Curley and Spanier agreed with that course of action. It is unfortunate that we do not know the advice given by the PSU counsel at the time of this decision; however the reporting law at the time clearly shows that Penn State officials met their legal obligations when they reported the incident to Second Mile.
The Verdict: Mostly false.
Louis Freeh Results: Four Half-Truths, two Pants on Fire, and one Mostly False
In summary, Louis Freeh was clearly more untruthful than Joe Paterno when recounting the details of the 1998 and 2001 incidents. The Penn State officials who accepted Freeh’s statements as facts have done a great disservice to the Penn State University and its alumni and to the Paterno family.
Editor's Comment: This analysis clearly shows how absurdly thin any evidence is that supports any of the horridly damaging claims made by Louis Freeh about Joe Paterno. Freeh stretched the bounds of any sane evaluation of a few notes and emails to make wild and outrageous statements in his summary and press conference concerning the culpability of Coach Paterno in any decision making capacity in 1998. Joe's only decision in 2001 was the right decision. He passed Mike McQueary and whatever allegations he made to the people who were responsible for dealing with those allegations. Any failure of their's is not his.
By the standards set by Mr. Freeh in destroying Joe Paterno's legacy and leading the NCAA to destroy Penn State Football, Mr. Freeh should immediately lose all credibility and be fined and imprisoned for slander and libel without the benefit of a trial that Joe Paterno will never have.
The Freeh Report is costing Penn State University and the people of State College a small fortune and the incredible thing is the Board of Trustees actually paid for these half-truth's and bald faced lies. I hope they think they got their money's worth.
Louis Freeh is a complete disaster for Penn State University and far less honorable and truthful than the man who's reputation and legacy he has helped to destroy. Barry Bozeman
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