Sunday, November 4

FREEHdom Fighter's Answer Daily Collegian Questions

FREEHdom Fighter's - Our Purpose and Longevity

Not superheroes but
FREEHdom Fighters 
Daily Collegian student newspaper reporter Manas Rajaram contacted the Second Mile Sandusky Scandal website to ask its founder to respond in a telephone interview to questions concerning the purpose of of SMSS. We took this opportunity to expound more broadly on the questions the Collegian posed by asking our members to provide their views on the purpose they see behind their efforts here, and how they see our contributions extending past the immediate Sandusky scandal and educating a society too often consumed with life's tasks to look past the headlines.

Colloquially known as the FREEHdom Fighters, the group is largely comprised of Penn Staters who refused to buy into what the media and their own university leadership was telling them regarding the causes, responsibility for, and way out of this scandal. Interestingly, the lead advocate in our group for justice for Penn State is not an alumni but hails from Tennessee.  A handfull of these members have addressed what they believe we have done not just for the broader community comprised of Penn State and its environs, but the message they hope this country takes away from how things were handled in this "Not Penn State scandal", but a scandal and a crime that cuts across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These are some thoughts from our members when asked to review the Collegian's questions from Manis Rajaram:
1. What exactly has the SMSS and FREEHdom fighters done to better the PSU community since the Sandusky Scandal. 
2. What do you foresee for the SMSS blog and FF in the future? Do you plan to continue on indefinitely?

Barry Bozeman  Any "community" but particularly a "university community" and uniquely the Penn State Community - must be about a will to find the truth and act on that truth - not the initial visceral reaction to something deemed horrible and unacceptable. Some parts of our society are only about what to fear and who to blame and acting on that impulse want quick targets and retribution. That is not justice.  This country was built on Due Process and deliberate gathering of the facts and evidence in an arena where the accused are given the opportunity to defend their actions. This is a key principal that seems to have been forgotten by the media, the Board of Trustees, Louis Freeh, and the Attorney General,  in the rush to judge Joe Paterno and Penn State University as some kind of aberrant "culture".  If any football program in the country is the proper mix of academic and athletic excellence it has always been Penn State. Under Joe Paterno the country recognized PSU as the one university that could be counted on to do it the right way. Penn State alumni love Penn State first and the football team because it recognized the values of the university - not because they loved a winning football team. As a University of Tennessee alumni I saw Joe Paterno as the football version of Tenn Women's Basketball coach Pat Summitt.

A University is the place where students, faculty and alumni should expect to see a thorough and deliberate open discussion of the facts - it is not a place to MOVE ON or MOVE FORWARD for some kind of temporary expediency as a PR ploy in the face of a negative media frenzy. Particularly a media frenzy that came about as the result of an inexcusable mistake on the part of the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Graham Spanier had the right idea. You don't accept a Presentment as unassailable fact and we know the Presentment made a hideous LIE seem to be fact. WE KNOW beyond all doubt that Mike McQueary did not see a boy being subjected to anal intercourse and we know for certain he did not say that to Joe or Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Yet when John P. Surma decided for the board to deny Joe the opportunity to do his regular Tuesday press conference and then fired him and Dr. Spanier it was a clear signal to the media that the Board thought Joe and the PSU administrators were guilty. That makes the Board - particularly Surma, Peetz, Corbett and his appointees, Frasier, Dambly and Lubert guilty of causing this undefended damage to Joe and Penn State.  This is not conjecture or a theory - it is fact.

We know now these things are true: 1) Joe Paterno did nothing wrong and everything right - as he had for 61 years at Penn State, Joe did the right thing at every turn. He is and was who he was thought to be and the destruction of his reputation and legacy are unjust to his memory and to the Penn State University he loved and helped to make what it is in the public's eye.

2) We know for certain the Freeh Report from the selection of the disgraced former FBI director to the blind acceptance of his seriously flawed and unconscionable indictment was a second inexcusable mistake.

3) Corbett and his appointees should have been excluded from deliberations and influence over these decisions because of a clear conflict of interest. The same is certainly true of Surma and seems to be likely true of Peetz, Lubert, Dambly, and Frasier.  So the question Penn State students need to ask themselves is "what is better for the Penn State community"? To "move on" and forget the lies and inexcusable actions of the Attorney General, the BoT and Louis Freeh? OR is it better for Penn State if the BoT is forced out, the truth about the absurd Freeh Fiction is exposed, and a man of the quality and stature of Joe Paterno is redeemed and reestablished as the Success with Honor and academic excellence subscribed to and practiced by that man who did such great things for your university? Corbett, Surma, Peetz, Erickson, and Louis Freeh can't hold a candle to Joe Paterno. What's better for Penn State and the PSU community, current students, alumni, and faculty is the TRUTH and the TRUTH is that Joe Paterno did nothing wrong and everything right. But the Attorney General, the Governor, the Board of Trustees, Louis Freeh and the national media are all demonstrably WRONG. There is nothing better about allowing the guilty to prosper and the innocent to be defamed. If there was ever anything worth fighting for it's the reputation of your university and it's iconic head coach. The right thing to do is always better.
WE will continue to do this until Joe is vindicated and this injustice is exposed.

Ray Blehar 1. Bettering the PSU community is the OUTCOME of what we are doing. As you are aware, PSU's reputation was severely damaged by a false narrative that started with the grand jury presentment, was continued by biased reporting in the press, was further damaged by the severely flawed Freeh Report, and again, continues to suffer damage by the PSU administration's efforts to put the scandal behind us. The latter has been the strategy since last November and it hasn't worked. Firing Spanier and Paterno didn't put the scandal behind PSU. Accepting the NCAA sanctions did not put the scandal behind us -- this week's game has been labeled the "INELIG-BOWL." And not challenging the Freeh Report essentially has now given Penn State the Pedophile State University label for the next 30 to 50 years.

What we do every day is challenge all the false narratives and find the reasons why the PSU BOT wants to accept the false narratives and "Move Forward."

In terms of results, we firmly believe our reporting has convinced some of the media, including and Bob Costas, that the 1998 investigation was botched by DPW and CYS. Conversely, the Freeh Report glossed over the obvious failures of these organizations and blamed Penn State for not recognizing Sandusky was a pedophile in 1998. This provides the basis to make a case to revise the NCAA Sanctions that penalize PSU back to the year 1998.

We also know that our reporting has provided useful information to the aggrieved parties in this case -- the Paterno family, Graham Spanier, Timothy Curley, and Gary Schultz. As you are probably aware, civil suits are planned by the aggrieved and these lawsuits will expose many of the facts that have been obscured by the AG, Louis Freeh, and the media.

So, most of our work is in the background, but it is very important and we firmly believe it will lead to the restoration of Penn State's reputation and a school that does things the right way, that believes in success with honor, and that our exploits on the athletic fields were never more important than what takes place every day in our classrooms.

2. I don't see the SMSS blog continuing on indefinitely. There will come a point when the entirety of our work regarding Penn State will come to an end. As far as the Freehdom Fighters go, well, we are learning a lot from this experience and may be able to put our experience to work helping others in the future.

Perhaps this goes to answering your first question in a much broader sense than the PSU community. As we uncovered the information about the 1998 failures of DPW and CYS, a number of child abuse victims reached out to us with their stories of how Centre County CYS dropped the ball in their abuse cases. In addition, we have had discussions with some victims advocacy groups about the 1998 failures and have asked them to call for investigations of CYS and DPW. So, it does appear that working to improve child protective services seems to be a logical next step for SMSS and the Freehdom Fighters.

Cathy S.The SMSS blog and the FREEHdom Fighters team behind it has worked to present an alternative to the misinformed message that the media has continued to spread since the release of the Grand Jury Presentment last November, through the arrest of Jerry Sandusky, the cowardly Board of Trustees actions, and continuing through the release of the flawed Freeh report and unjustified NCAA sanctions to today. Our message is based on facts that the media ignores in its haste to be the first to publish sensational headlines that grab readers. Our goal is to contradict that false narrative and replace it with a thoughtful consideration of the facts that corrects the rush to judgment of the past year. This mission includes shining a light on the negligence of The Second Mile, the Department of Public Welfare, Children and Youth Services, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Governor, all of whom had a responsibility to protect these children and all children. While “bettering the PSU community” is not one of our direct goals, to the extent that the rush to judgment has negatively impacted the PSU community in spirit, morale, pride, business, academic stature, and future opportunities, we hope that our efforts do better the PSU community. (And thank you for calling it the Sandusky Scandal.)

For the future? We are not “moving on,” we are not going away.

MGK.   I agree with Cathy's emphasis that, while bettering the PSU community is a desirable outcome, it is not the Prime Directive. I would also note the Attorney General's role we've scrutinized so citizens can consider the job their AG and Governor are doing. And I'd point out that the name Sandusky Scandal was not selected randomly for the name of our group. To date, The Second Mile has not received the scrutiny it should have received FIRST, before Penn State became involved. TSM is the common denominator among victims and bore the legal responsibility for its founder, and the FREEHdom Fighters have worked to draw attention to their role.

Wendy Silverwood.  A University should be place where the students & faculty SHOULD be able to do critical thinking, freely discuss ALL sides of an issue. This is what we send our sons & daughters there for-- to learn & grow. Not be pushed into a false or determined narrative.   That is not a characteristic of a healthy, vibrant University community. To ask what we've done for the community is somewhat of a loaded question.  As I see it as a Pennsylvanian from outside the State College community, and as an Alum & parent of an alum..I see a dearth of facts out there. Our work and this blog is presenting more sides to this story.

As I shouted to Judge Freeh & the press that day in July, you can't tell this story without delving into 2Mile, CYS, DPW & Corbett & the PaOAG.  All these players had a part in it. This is not a PSU's a Commonwealth Scandal

 I would imagine the blog will continue until it is not needed anymore..which would be when we finally get straight answers from all the parties mentioned above

Debbie R.   I would be very clear that about our goals. As I see it, our goal is not "to better the PSU community" but rather clear up mis-information and provide facts. In fact, dare I say, that I believe our mission has a far wider reach than just the Penn State community? This could have happened anywhere and, to the extent that we can point this out to people, the more traction we'll get outside the PSU community.

Bill P.   What we have done/are doing is to inform 100's of thousands of people of the truth and that in itself helps PSU. By telling the truth and presenting facts we are telling people across the country that "Due Process" and "Justice" still have a place in American Society and if we achieve that it will better PSU and the nation as a whole. "Due Process" is not something for the media to decide. But INFORMED people with the facts and objectivity to weigh those facts in a logical way and not make decisions in a knee jerk way. We are exposing the leaders to the PSu community that their OLD GUARD BOT doesn't care about PSU and justice, just their own self interest

Tracy G.  Number 1 - interesting question and it may be subject so alot of misinterpretation, if not misquoting. We have certainly provided facts about the issues and people. We are searching for the truth and pointing it out as we find it. To me, that betters the community. I actually was thinking the blog should continue. I think people expect efforts like ours will be done at some point. Then some may ask why we don't dedicate it to helping combat abuse or other goals like that. Our response should say we won't stop after this chapter is closed. This is now something that should continue on, providing information through informative articles.

Linda B.  Pretty simple answer to me....FF's are looking for the answers to the questions that the Penn State community has continually asked the university's board and they have failed to answer. With regard to question 2, I would say we'll stay around for as long as it takes to find the truth OR for the board to come forward and tell the truth!

Karen W.  Well for starters, the Collegian reporter referred to this as the Sandusky Scandal, placing ownership where it belongs, on Jerry Sandusky.  That in itself is a significant change in media dialog to this point.

Vickie Fleisher-Gann: 1. Our group of PSU alumni from all over the USA formulated an action plan in order to review the facts in this scandal and teach the community the real truth and not allow the “truth” the media uses to taint the reputation of Joe Paterno and our beloved University…We received the best education PSU offered and now that education is going to come back and show the PSU community we mean business when it comes to honor, integrity and the love of our school…Many of us have lost sleep, skipped meals and sacrificed more than you can imagine to make sure everyone who disgraced our honor, integrity and reputation get what they deserve  
2)  I can only speak for myself but I plan on fighting until Joe Paterno and PSU are restored to greatness, every member of the BOT who sat during the reign of terror all resign, peace is restored to Penn State and the Penn State Community and Sue Paterno and the Paterno family receive an apology for the way Joe’s last days on earth were in shambles…61 years Joe Paterno served Penn State honorably and he didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was!!!...

Bill B. SMSS has presented the community with facts and information unavailable to them through the MSM, presented in a way that demonstrates we don't know the whole story or have necessarily been told the truth by various PSU, state, and local officials.  It's not that these facts aren't available to the media, but they don't fit the dialog so they are ignored at the expense of reputations, legacies, and justice. The "community" ultimately determines the value of our efforts. A large segment of the community across the country senses something isn't right in the story that unfolded. They are correct. If we help them find answers to what really occured in Pennsylvania, it will have been worth the effort.

Please weigh in with your own thoughts on how you believe our activities, and those of others like us, are affecting this story, and the potential for justice born of due process as it affects the future of Penn State, and the legacy of the man revered for his role in building this institution.


  1. Thank you all for expressing the feelings of many Penn Staters, Players and supporters of PSU and JoePa. I have read everything that I could get my hands on, talked to many alumni and players and expressed my thoughts as much as I could without being overbearing. It still amazes me how many people,news reporters,and sportcsters still make comments about the entire situation with so little investigation into the whole story. It's as if they just wanted to write another story about how bad PSU and Joe were without even mentioning Sandusky. Thank you again for all you have done to try to get to truth.
    WE ARE...

  2. My name is Paula. I’m not sure I can adequately express how this scandal has affected me personally – simply stated, it has been devastating. Please allow me to attempt to explain.

    My father passed when I was very young and my 6 siblings and I were raised by our mother, an exceptionally strong and reserved woman, who never remarried. This in and of itself is quite amazing – we were not a family of financial means, yet my Mom successfully raised 7 of us alone and we all grew up to be responsible, successful individuals. My Mom is from the same generation as Joe Paterno and she is so much like Joe was. I have never met anyone who I respect or admire more than Mom, and she respected and admired Joe.

    When I was about 15 years old, I already knew I wanted to be an engineer. I asked my oldest brother, who was almost 20 years my senior, “…where do you think I should go to college?” Being a man of few words, he simply said “Penn State.” When I asked my Mom the same question, I already knew what her answer would be because she admired all that Paterno stood for. It seems unusual now that I look back on it – after all, I was not a high school football player or an athlete of any kind. I was a young girl who wanted to be an engineer and yet Joe still strongly influenced my family’s opinion on where I should go to college.

    The decision to go to Penn State was therefore, quite easy. I went on to complete 2 engineering degrees from Penn State, the second degree obtained 20 years ago. Today, in my 40s, I am one of the highest-ranking female engineers in my company which has approximately 13,000 employees. Aside from professional career, I have tried to live a honorable life according to my Mom’s high standards which essentially echo Paterno’s standards.

    Now in her mid-80s, my Mom has never been one to show much emotion – I think I have only seen her cry three times in my lifetime. And she does not give respect easily but she respected Paterno. I watched her cry in disbelief when the allegations against Joe came out and we cried together when Joe died. Not only has it been heartbreaking to see how Joe has been vilified the last year and during his final months, it has broken me apart to see the reaction from my stoic Mother.

    The website along with others such as Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship have given me hope that the truth will eventually prevail. I rely on these organizations tremendously because I honestly feel that no one else is even trying to tell the real story. I wish I could say that my need to know the facts were because of a ‘higher cause’ – i.e., media bias must be exposed, or political corruption must be exposed, or injustice must be exposed. Those are all, or course, noble causes, but my reason for needing to know the truth are closer to the heart – I simply must know the truth, both for myself and for my Mom.

    1. Paula, thank you for sharing your story. You and your dear mom are NOT alone, not by a long shot. Several of us have similar stories about the incredible toll this disaster has taken on our aging parents and grandparents, many in their 70s, 80s, and older. I consider what the Board allowed to take place to be a form of outright elder abuse. I wish I was joking.

    2. well said, Paula...*applauding your words w/standing ovation*...

  3. Ray,

    You say that you've provided information to the aggrieved parties (the Paternos, Spanier, etc.) to aid in their civil trials. Is it possible that you would be called as witnesses, particularly with your experience in forensics? Is there any possibility that the NCAA sanctions could be legally invalidated, especially considering they go back to 1998, which you've pretty well established to have been outside PSU's control?

    How much do you think will the PA AG election affect things? Do you think that there could be a re-examination of Corbett's influence over the BoT, especially if the AG is a Democrat?

    I really want some good news in the near future. This has been an incredibly long year. I used to see Paterno walking to work from my dorm room (North Halls), and I met Spanier once at a PSU Music School function. I was there in 94 when we went undefeated but didn't get a title, and I remember then the chip on the shoulder thinking we were disrespected. I never imagined this degree of wrath from the media, particularly on Joe Pa.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. All the responses to the Collegian questions are great. First- thank you all for your work on the Second Mile/Sandusky Scandal. I’ve mentioned this previously, perhaps here, but something that keeps me following this issue and what you are doing are some major injustices that have occurred in the past. Second Mile/Sandusky may not be one of them, but much of it looks that way.

    I’m thinking Duke Lacrosse, Tanya Brawley, the McMartin Pre-School convictions and the Wenatchee Washington child molestations. In all these cases our legal system and many of our media failed miserably and acted like pack dogs without digging for the truth. In McMartin and Wenatchee, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal dug out the truth and most of the convictions were thrown out. If we allow the Penn State Board to “move on” and don’t work to get the truth, we risk repeating these same false prosecutions.

    Additionally, for an idea of how far reaching the impact on Penn State can be is a brief conversation I had today with a friend. He’s a Dean at our local community college which has had management/financial issues. I mentioned that he should feel fortunate he’s not one at Penn State. His immediate comment was how badly Penn State’s trustees have botched their handling of the case and their continuing efforts to make it worse. He also commented that one of his friends had ruled out Penn State as a choice for graduate work in geology because of its new reputation. She felt it has a great geology program for her needs but will apply elsewhere. All that from a guy who has no ties whatsoever to Penn State and who lives in Arizona!

  5. What the BOT does not understand is Penn State is not a business. It is a community. If kodak has a financial scandal or their ceo is accused of lying to a grand jury, we as consumers move on and use a different brand if Kodak goes under. There is little pride in a company other than those who work for them. Ex-workers don't carry the burden of those crimes.

    BOT please listen, THAT IS NOT THE CASE WITH UNIVERSITIES. Penn State will always be a part of us. It helped define who we are today through some of the most vulnerable years of our lives. It is there we made decisions that affect the rest of our lives. Nobody's heart hurts more than the alumni of a university we so dearly loved. The BOT have made the situation worse with the mantra "Move On". We can not and will not until the truth and facts are put together. Let the chips fall where they may, but it is imperative the truth be uncovered.

  6. May no act of ours bring shame

    Certainly those who deny the actions and defend those who placed PSU's image above the lives and well-being of young boys bring shame to all Penn Staters, past, present, and future. They may view themselves as a "resistance," but they are not a "resistance" to the media and outsiders.

    Our children deserve safety, rights, and dignity - without question, without exception, and without reservation - and any who are willing to put a sport, an institution, or their so-called "legacy" as a greater priority have lost touch with our shared values as human beings.

    Those who don't understand this are a "resistance," but what they are resisting are shared values of common decency and responsibility that most human beings have as a priority towards the most vulnerable among us.

    I cannot tell you the frustration, disappointment, and outrage that the rest of us PSU alumni feel when we hear and see this. As a PSU alumnus, I cannot possibly put into words the disgust that I feel as I keep seeing media report on such groups as "alumni watchdog groups."

    May no act of ours bring shame

    If we forget this responsibility, then all of the "pride" in the world will not "defend" our alma mater.

    1. PA Child Rights - hmmm interesting name choice I guess but taking that name gives you no right to defame others. Who is it that "placed PSU's image above the lives and well being of young boys? Can you offer some proof that shows you know something we do not?

      Or is your assumption based on the lies and deceptions in AG Linda Kelly's Presentment or that incredible work of fiction by the Freeh group?

    2. PACHILDRIGHTS - All you have to do is show us where we are wrong in our assessment of the 1998 situation:
      This is our case and if you can show us where we are wrong we will shut down this effort to get Due Process for Joe Paterno and to restore the honor of Penn State.

      Do you think we are wrong about our assessment of the 2001 - Mike McQueary incident? If so show us where we are wrong and we will shut down this effort.

      Here's your opportunity to end this effort. All you have to do is show us where you are right and we are wrong. We will be waiting

  7. There is a boatload of info about all the glaring facts that would otherwise be addressed at The last blog, which is in 3 parts, is titled 99 Questions that State Penn Prez Won't Be Asked (at the Wash Press Bldg Halloween). Of course, he wasn't.

    Only if there be a groundswell of indignation throughout the state will we be able to get even a semblance of justice. First step, as I see it, should be to pray about it together--alone, in small groups, and in large groups on campus. The second step is to get the BOT to resign en masse. And the third step is to form a grand jury on our own, independent of Linda Kelly, and indict all the criminals before and after the fact who are guilty of malfeasance.