Tuesday, August 13

Freeh Found Nothing During His Investigation, Followed Corbett's Blueprint

The testimony of John Corro and Kimberly Belcher confirmed that Freeh didn't find anything during his investigation of PSU.   Freeh was brought in by Frazier (and Corbett) to ensure blame fell on Penn State only.

by
Ray Blehar

While Penn State alumni and fans were still reeling from the shock of the dismissal of legendary football coach Joe Paterno, the BOT broke "radio silence" on November 11, 2011 to announce that it had named Kenneth Frazier and Ronald Tomalis as the leaders of the Special Investigations Task Force to review issues related to the Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz charges.

Just one week later, on November 18th, the Task Force had engaged with Freeh, Sporkin, and Sullivan (FSS) to conduct the investigation. When the alumni group, PS4RS, pressed Frazier and the BOT about the details of the selection process, Frazier would not disclose how many other firms were considered or how the selection was determined.   FSS was a new venture for Freeh and the firm had no track record, however, Louis Freeh certainly did.

Freeh's history as the former Director of the FBI was highly controversial if not disastrous. The discovery of spy Robert Hanssen, the Wen Ho Lee case, the Olympic Park bombing investigation, the wasteful procurement of Virtual Case File, and the failure to act on reports of suspected terrorists doing flight training all happened on Freeh's watch.  He was urged to resign by the editorial board of Business Week for the Waco cover-up and for insubordination of then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

Despite Freeh's history, he was selected for the job with much fanfare about his independence, integrity, and the wide scope of his investigation from  Frazier and Tomalis.  Little did Frazier and Tomalis know, at the time, that PSU would eventually release the engagement letter that defined the "small box" Freeh was kept inside to conduct the investigation.  In other words, focus only on PSU and exclude anyone else who may have had a role in enabling Sandusky's crimes.

Task Force Co-Chair, Kenneth "OJ" Frazier, remarked:

“The entire Board of Trustees is intent on taking all steps necessary to ensure that our institution never again has to ask whether it did the right thing, or whether or not it could have done more. We are committed to leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of what happened, who knew what when, and what changes we must make to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Therefore, we are pleased that Judge Freeh has agreed to lead a thorough and independent investigative review of this matter,”


Task Force Co-Chair, Ronald Tomalis, stated:

 “Judge Freeh is a man of complete integrity, independence and objectivity. The scope of his work will be expansive, and he is free to take his work to whatever conclusions he deems appropriate. No one at Penn State will be exempt from this review, including the Board of Trustees itself.”



Questionable Independence
Blogger Marc Rubin (Tom In Paine) raised serious questions about the independence of Louis Freeh.  In an  rather extensive blogpost, Rubin reported on Freeh's former working relationship with former MBNA V.P. of Consumer Finance, Ric Struthers, who also sat on the Board of The Second Mile (TSM).   As most know and Rubin reported, MBNA/BofA would provide the credit card services to PSU and pay over $30M for access to its lists of alumni.

Struthers was not only on the Board of Directors at TSM, but donated at least $540,000 to TSM from 2005 to 2010 (including corporate donations from MBNA/BofA).  In addition, Struthers was an at-large member of PSU's Campaign for the Future fund raising effort.

Not so ironically, the "thorough and independent" Freeh Report didn't report the relationship between TSM Board Member Ric Struthers, Freeh, and PSU.

Rubber Stamp Investigation
However, it was the statement of Governor Tom Corbett that really foretold how the investigation would unfold or, in other words, be nothing more than a rubber stamp on the PA Attorney General's investigation. As the Freeh Report would eventually demonstrate, it would deviate very little from the facts presented in the grand jury presentment.


"I'm very pleased with Ken Frazier leading that. Ken – I've only known him a short time – but I'm very impressed with his leadership. I'm very impressed that he has put together some people, including Ron Tomalis, on behalf of the administration and also as [state] secretary of education, on that team, and the selection of Louis Freeh is I think a very good one. I'm sure most of you by now know the former director of the FBI and former federal judge Louis Freeh was appointed.
And I think one of the reasons that someone like Mr. Freeh was appointed is because he understands the role of a grand jury investigation, the role of the prosecutors and will work well with the attorney general's office and Attorney General Linda Kelly so that [obstruction of the attorney general's investigation] does not happen."

Freeh Report Short On Facts, High On Supposition

Any serious review of the Freeh Report found it to be woefully short on providing evidence to support the trumped up charges of "concealment" of Sandusky's crimes by PSU officials.  Former U.S. Attorney General, Richard Thornburg called it "inaccurative, speculative, and usupported by the record that was compiled in the course of preparing the report."   The Freeh invesigation uncovered so little evidence of improper activities by Paterno, Curley, Schultz, and Spanier that it had to sensationalize the issue of PSU granting emeritus status to Sandusky as a means of "beefing up" the report.  
Freeh's entire thesis of  concealment was tied to a handful of vague e-mails that Freeh, himself, deemed "the most important documents in this investigation" (Freeh Report, page 11).  In the same paragraph where Freeh made this claim, he made two other statements that falsely credited his Special Investigative Counsel for the discovery and the forensic analysis of the e-mail evidence (my emphasis added).  
"The University staff provided a large volume of raw data from computer systems, individual computers and computer devices.  The Special Investigative Counsel performed the forensic analysis and review of this raw data independent of the University Staff.  From this review and analysis the Special Investigative Counsel discovered...."
Much like the November 2011 grand jury presentment, the statements were false and eventually the truth would be revealed through the judicial proceedings of PSU officials Curley, Schultz and Spanier.

Freeh didn't find any e-mails - they were handed to him

At his press conference, Louis Freeh stated his team made "independent discovery" of the e-mails, that were the most important evidence in the Penn State case, in March of 2012.   Based on the testimony of John Corro, we now know that statement to be false.

John Corro testified on July 29, 2013 (pages 80, 89, and 90) that he searched PSU's distributed network for the e-mails of Sandusky, McQueary, Paterno, Curley, Schultz, and Spanier in March/April of 2011. Corro stated he may have had his dates confused (page 85).

Corro  provided the results of his search to then-PSU counsel Cynthia Baldwin.  Baldwin was provided with three USB keys - one containing all the data and two others that were from key word searches.

On 30 July 2013, Braden Cook, OAG computer forensics supervisor, testified that in March 2012  the computer security unit of the OAG provided him with a DVD of Schultz's .pst archive from Outlook which contained all of the e-mails used as evidence in this case (pages 66-68).  Cook stated those files were somehow missing from the inventory that originally came over from PSU.    It should be noted that Cook did not testify to anything other than being a recipient of information from PSU and performing key word searches. In other words, other avenues of computer forensics investigations, such as checking of server logs, keystroke forensics, or recovery of deleted files were not utilized in the analysis.

Based on reports from observers at the preliminary hearing, Cook's testimony was well rehearsed and he stated that Spanier had deleted all the e-mails in his in-box and out-box upon his departure from PSU.  The implication being that Spanier was trying to hide or conceal information.  However, this point was contradicted by Corro's testimony a day earlier, who stated Spanier's out-box contained a large volume of data (page 95).

Corro also testified that in November 2011, he worked with OAG office officials to expand the search to include other individuals and devices, including cell phone, PDAs, laptops, and other devices.  According to Corro this information was turned over to the Freeh group and the OAG.  While this search may have uncovered 3.5 million files - as Freeh claimed - none of the files related to the key evidence used in the case.

Freeh's claims of his team discovering the e-mails is a bald-faced lie and Freeh was nothing more than a grandstanding liar at his July 12, 2012 press conference.

Discovery of The Schultz File - Another Lie By Freeh

At Freeh's July 12, 2012 press conference, he stated that the discover of the Schultz file was a combination of "skill and luck" and that Schultz actively "sought to conceal those records."

Schultz employment history alone contradicts that he could have concealed them from Freeh's team, given that he had re-retired from PSU before Freeh was hired to conduct the investigation.  Moreover, Schultz had originally retired from PSU in June of 2009 - well before PSU received a subpoena for records pertaining to Sandusky's employment and any correspondence related to investigations of Sandusky.

However, Kimberly Belcher's 30 July 2013 testimony truly exposed Freeh's lies about discovery of the Schultz file.  Belcher testified that after Schultz did not return to work after the November 2011 indictment, he called her to ask her to obtain his transitory file and deliver it to him.  Belcher stated that she recalled that confidential files were kept in the bottom drawer of a file and found the Sandusky file there.  She made a copy of the file and delivered the original to Schultz -- in order to "be helpful."  Eventually, Belcher received a subpoena for the file and turned it over to the OAG in April 2012.  Upon turning it over, she learned that Schultz and his attorney had turned over the original to the OAG one day earlier (page 66).

Later in the press conference, Freeh would say they found them "in conjunction with the attorney general."  However that statement is contradicted by the Freeh Report itself, which references all of the "Schultz Confidential Notes" with a date of 5-1-2012 -- meaning they were provided to Freeh's group after they were turned over to the OAG in April 2012.

If you're beginning to wonder if Freeh actually investigated anything, you're on the right track.

Outside of brow-beating older women and taking dictation from Cynthia Baldwin, Freeh didn't do much in terms of an investigation.

No Investigation of the Janitor Incident 

While the evidence surrounding the (now debunked) janitor incident shows a number of inconsistencies about the date it took place, the physical location of the incident, and the circumstances preceding its alleged occurrence, the most damning piece of evidence that proved Petrosky's story was false was the lack of a shower curtain or obstruction in the Assistant Coaches Locker Room.

The November 2011 grand jury presentment (page 22) stated that Petrosky looked into the shower and could only see the legs of Sandusky and the child because the upper bodies were blocked.

Had Freeh's team taken the most obvious investigative step and inspected the Assistant Coaches Locker Room, they would have learned there were no obstructions blocking the view into the shower.   While they should have also checked the employment records of Calhoun (the eye-witness) to find he wasn't even working at PSU in November 2000, the physical evidence about the Assistant Coaches Locker Room, alone, disproved the testimony of Petrosky.

It is truly amazing that Freeh's team was on campus for eight months and never checked the alleged crime scene.  It appears very clear that Freeh was toeing the line that Corbett had drawn -- and would do nothing  to obstruct Linda Kelly's investigation of Curley, Schultz, and Spanier, as well as the prosecution of Sandusky.

Freeh accepted the grand jury testimony of Petrosky at face value and never bothered to update his report (Freeh Report page 65) to reflect the new testimony that Petrosky would present at the trial.  Freeh simply piled on and called the incident the "most horrific rape" that occurred on PSU's campus.

Sensationalizing Emeritus Status

After the first few months of the investigation at Penn State, Freeh's team had turned up little to no information that revealed Paterno, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz were anything other than honest men who didn't understand what they were dealing with in Jerry Sandusky.

Interviews with Penn State employees and retirees was yielding nothing.  In fact, the Freeh team interviewed - and reports are they brow beat - a septuagenarian woman who formerly worked for Paterno to try to get her to admit some type of wrong-doing by Joe.  She held her ground.

With the case going nowhere, it appears that Task Force officials (Frazier, et al) and the Freeh Group decided that they would sensationalize the awarding of emeritus status to Sandusky.

While the Freeh Report "found" that Sandusky was not eligible for this "honor" and it was given to him only because Spanier had promised it to Sandusky (Freeh Report, page 55),  former PSU spokesperson Lisa Powers contradicted the findings in an article regarding the emeritus status former faculty member, Professor John Neisworth (who had been accused of child sexual abuse).


We asked Penn State why Professor Neisworth is still listed as a professor emeritus on the school’s website. She responded:
The emeritus title was granted after the charges were declared unfounded by police and the courts. It is common in academe to grant emeritus status — so he remains listed in our database as do our other emeriti faculty. He is not on campus and has not had an office since he retired. He no longer teaches here in any capacity.

Exhibit 3I of the Freeh Report indicated somewhat of a debate over the title of the emeritus position more than the granting of emeritus status, however, Rod Erickson, who eventually approved the request, stated that not too many assistant professors would be granted this honor.  A quick check of emeriti faculty in the Department of Kinesiology indicated an "associate professor emeritus" and a "senior research associate emeritus" on the rolls.  Finally, the HR representative, Janine Andrews, stated the historically they had granted exceptions in the rewarding of emeritus status.  

In conclusion, this issue was blown out of proportion by Freeh.


Not a Comprehensive and Thorough Report


Finally, if you really want to understand just how much respect BOT members like Kenneth Frazier have for the PSU alumni and our collective intelligence, all you need to do is read his remarks after the release of the Freeh Report.

Frazier 7/12/2012:  “We'd like to thank Judge Freeh for his diligence in uncovering the facts over the past eight months and for issuing such a comprehensive and thorough report today...The process we just underwent with Judge Freeh leading it was critical for all of us if we are to move forward.  We needed to understand what happened, to hold the appropriate individuals responsible for their actions and their failures to act, and identify the changes that need to be made in our University community."


Move forward.  Don't ask questions. We know what's best for Penn State.

Kenneth Frazier and the rest of the trustees underestimated not only the intelligence of the alumni but our persistence.  We recognized a fraud when we saw it (and him) and we we're not going to go away until the fraud (Freeh) is exposed.

Karen Peetz stated (hoped) that the whole Sandusky affair would be a distant memory by 2014.

And perhaps I agree with Ms. Peetz in one way - by 2014, the Freeh Report will be tossed on ash heap of history.

25 comments:

  1. Another great post, Ray. Keep the pressure on these bastards!

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  2. How do you think Frazier "framed" this request to Freeh? Did he use euphemisms like Tilda Swinton to the hitmen in "Michael Clayton" or just spell it out? Do you think that Freeh was aware of the BOT's motives or didn't he care as long as the check cleared? Will Freeh ever be deposed and forced to sing under oath? Whose idea was the press conference and the website crashing? Sounds like dirty tricks.

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    1. "...or just spell it out?"

      No need for that, they both knew the fix was in based on Freeh's reputation for giving customers the outcome they've paid for.

      Frazier makes some ambiguous statements regarding the concerns of the Board of Traitors about the power of the football team. Wink, wink, done.

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  3. Corbett also said the following about a meeting he had with Freeh concerning his upcoming investigation- (will paraphrase his words, article with quotes has been wiped clean from Pennlive) - 'You better believe I talked with L Freeh. I told him to look at the PSU administration, how they don't communicate/get along with the BOT'. No bias, no influence, no preconceived slanted opinion from the Governor of Pa. Very independent and comprehensive. Not.

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  4. What I have always found truly amazing is that it took only one week to come up with a budget, bid the job, interview the respondants and to pick Freeh's group to do the investigation. The Board must have used the same process that they used to accept Freeh's findings to choose Freeh in the first place (wink, wink). Great job Ray. Let's get these bastards.

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  5. When the Freeh report was first issued, I got into a lively discussion with a friend about its validity. He claimed that it was like the word of God (shudder) and that since the investigation was led by a former FBI director, it shouldn't be questioned. He became livid when I said that if a student submitted an assignment with such shoddy research, I would fail the student. Thanks again for your hard work showing that my initial suspicions were correct.

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    1. Ditto for me. I have no connection to PA, actually did not even know the name Joe Paterno before Nov 2011, but needed interesting things to read and think about. From the McQueary story to the Freeh Report to the work of notpsu et al., the Sandusky case has provided all the mental distraction I've needed!

      It's particularly amazing to me that such "failing-level" work was put forward (and continues to be defended) as some sort of argument to support a story that has never made any sense whatsoever, and which included at every turn a highly regarded academic institution such as PSU. Did the purveyors of all this totally non-convincing work think that PSU was NOT turning out citizens with some degree of critical thinking???

      Becky

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  6. A child of 12 could figure out what was going on (old Johnny Carson line). Only question is, who scripted Freeh's lines at the press conference. My money is on Frazier. His "performance" at the press conference was just too smooth. As Mark Twain once said, "The art of lying is seriously degraded".

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  7. Sandusky was just an Assistant Professor, an entry level, nontenured position. He was not eligible for emeritus status per Penn State rules, which required a minimum of Associate Professor, a tenured position.

    The big unanswered question is who asked Spanier to give Sandusky emeritus status. Was it some bigwig at Second Mile, on the Board of Trustees or in the state government?

    A good case could have been made to grant Sandusky an exception for his Second Mile work and Second Mile's joint ventures with Penn State. However, it does seem to have been done in an underhanded way with Schultz writing the recommendation letter and making it appear to have come from Sandusky's department chairman.

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    1. What?! Gary Schultz recommended JS for emeritus status?? When? Is that letter available? And did Schultz really put this forward as coming from a Dept Chair???

      I could see Curley making such a nomination, being an administrator for athletics, but Schultz?

      I may have missed this. But it seems relevant, and certainly something worth figuring out.

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    2. Page 21 of the Freeh report says that "Documents show the unusual request for Emeritus rank originated from Schultz..." It provides further details starting on page 60.

      The usual first step for obtaining emeritus status is that the Dept. Chairman would forward the recommendation to the Dean after a vote of the tenured faculty. Sandusky was an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Physical Education.

      Spanier promised someone to make Sandusky an emeritus but it not clear who he promised or why. Spanier claimed he didn't know Sandusky and maybe had met him once or twice.

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    3. Tim,
      Thanks for your comments. Two points:
      1) Janine Andrews from HR clearly states that historically PSU made exceptions, but not for the specific title and recommends avoidance of strictly a professorial title.

      2) Freeh excluded the FAX that he alleges originated from Schultz from the exhibits in the report. We are learning that Freeh excluded quite a few documents that don't support his story.

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    4. Ray,

      Freeh didn't provide much of a background on emeritus status. It is usually given to faculty who want to continue to be involved in research, teaching or service in their dept. after retirement. I doubt Freeh bothered to inquire if Sandusky remained active in his dept. after retirement. Maybe Sandusky did remain active in his dept. or maybe he just wanted the title and the perks.

      I agree that Freeh did a very poor job on this issue and others. He should have questioned if the chairman and tenured faculty in Sandusky's dept. ever were asked for input on whether Sandusky should be granted emeritus status. I doubt the dept. faculty would take kindly to having the President dictate that Sandusky be given emeritus status.

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  8. My take on it was that PA was offering perks for early retirement. I remember that the Federal Government at that time was offering $25,000 to civil servants to take an early out. I don't know what emeritus status really got Jerry...maybe a reward for 30 years of service. The retirement package was negotiated, and I'm sure other PA employees made out like bandits. He was given an office on campus, which is totally unremarkable. The Second Mile programs on campus were under the auspices of the Outreach Office. The emeritus issue is a Red Herring.

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  9. Has there been any progress in requesting Freeh's files,notes, etc..? I recall this being discussed awhile back. I would imagine C/C/S and Paterno camp would be very interested in this.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. The timing of the release of the Freeh report and press conference shows it is nothing but a marketing document with the press conference a grand-standing media event. The release/press conference date was Thursday July 12.

    For those not familiar with the sports world, this day was during the Major League Baseball All-Star break, but after the actual All-Star game and the day before the regular season games were to resume. It is a dead zone day for sports news as no major sports are going on. Therefore, ESPN, who was so pivotal in sensationalizing the story in Nov 2011, would have had very little content to provide that day. This story, compounded with the NCAA sanctions, gave ESPN and other sports media more than enough content to get them through to the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics two weeks later.

    If you're Penn State and know you have a document that will do incredible damage to the school, why wouldn't you allow it's release at a time when the media attention would not be so great? Most companies like to release bad news on a Friday afternoon right before the weekend so it's out of people's minds by Monday.

    Look how the NCAA handled this, they handed down the sanctions against Penn State on a Monday morning, 4 days before the Olympics were to start, so they could bask in their positive press for a couple days. Meanwhile, when the NCAA stated they would not sanction the University of North Carolina for a widespread academic fraud case that involved student atheletes, they made this press release the Friday afternoon before Labor Day, less than 2 months after the PSU sanctions were handed down.

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    1. "Now, based on Lisa Powers' preliminary hearing testimony, we know that John Surma directed the disaster that ensued after the release of the grand jury presentment." Blehar, notpsu

      What does Powers say about the release of the Freeh Report and LF's press conference? Was Surma still a major player, or was it Frazier/ Tomalis, or someone else?

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    2. Peetz was the Chair of the BOT at the time, but she was basically a surrogate for Surma based on the numerous professional connections they had from BoNY Mellon, US Steel, and Peetz's role on the BoD of SunCoke Energy (US Steel is a major customer of SunCoke).

      The Freeh report and presser was controlled by Corbett, Surma, Peetz, and Frazier. Keep in mind Frazier also sits on the BoD of Exxon-Mobil, which was expanding it ownership of natural gas exploration in PA's Marcellus Shale.

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    3. LaTorre's firm was brought in after the crisis to handle communications. http://latorrecommunications.com/team/

      Client list is quite interesting. He has run successful public affairs campaigns, providing counsel for a long list of businesses and organizations that includes LeadingAge PA, Constellation New Energy, Pennsylvania Builders Association, and the Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Formerly connected to Gov. Tom Ridge.

      The stench from the natural gas/petroleum industy is all over the BOT. Decision on the new power plant and pipeline no doubt connected to their interest in the industry.

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    4. Also, don't forget Terry Pegula, who donated almost $100 million to PSU for the hockey team and arena. He's close friends with Surma (who played hockey at PSU) and held his own press conference where he said those responsible need to come clean and he referred to Paterno as "you know who".

      Pegula made billions in natural gas and oil and donated hundreds of thousands of $$ to Corbett's campaign. Including $50k (in his wife's name of course) AFTER Corbett was elected governor, but just 1 month before Pegula was named to Corbett's Marcellus Shale commission in March 2011.

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  12. Frazier had to know that Merke's law firm, Pepper Hamilton, was negotiating with Freeh (now PH executive board chair). Highly unethical at the least. If Frazier was, for instance, in an acquisition position in the Federal Government, he would be charged with a crime.

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  13. Ray,

    Is there any effort to send your posts to BoT and Kane investigation?
    Wouldn't Lubrano, Oldsey, etc. want to help?

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    1. Bob,
      I'm pretty sure the Kane's investigators and others are regular readers of the blog.

      Delete
  14. Is it possible for the defense attorneys of Curley, Schultz, Spanier & Paterno Family to call Surma, Frazier, Corbett to testify during their trials? It would be very interesting to have them on the record and having to answer questions directly to help get to the bottom of their collaboration.
    Cynthia Baldwin was, is and has been a complete disgrace not only to the entire PSU community, but to Spanier, Schultz, Curely directly. She is an incompetent, disloyal, self interested pig that should be shunned by the entire Happy Valley community. It is incomprehensible that she represented herself as the attorney for PSU and as the individual counsel for Curley, Spanier, Schultz during their Grand Jury testimony and now because of her self interested greed and personal pursuit of her individual goals is a lead witness against the three (3) she represented. No matter what the facts of the case are, have been and or how terrible the misdeeds of anyone associated w/ Jerry Sandusky, Cynthia Baldwin has ensured that their never will be a fair trial for the three (3) defendants and or the Paterno family. This case will be thrown out because of violating Attorney/ Client privilege. Is there no common sense left in Pennsylvania?

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