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Thursday, July 12, 2012
Notes from Louis Freeh news conference

By Adam Rittenberg

PHILADELPHIA -- Judge Louis Freeh on Thursday handed down a stinging report on Penn State’s actions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, and it’s time to look at some of the key points he addressed.

Speaking before a packed room of media members and his own team that conducted an eight-month investigation, Freeh targeted four men at the top of Penn State's leadership chain -- former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley, who is currently on leave, and former football coach Joe Paterno -- as well as the school's board of trustees, which hired Freeh to conduct the probe but committed a "failure of governance" in creating an environment of non-accountability.

The most damning elements of the report concerned the knowledge Penn State officials had about allegations regarding Sandusky in both 1998 and 2001, and their failure to report it to outside authorities.

Here are some of the quotes and notes that stood out to me after attending the news conference:
The scene outside the news conference featured several attorneys of Sandusky's victims speaking to reporters, as well as several people who support Paterno and believe the real blame remains with Penn State's trustees.

Brian Masella, who played for Paterno at Penn State from 1971 to 1975, believes Paterno didn't purposefully withhold information about Sandusky.

"As a player, if we did anything wrong, he came down very, very hard on us," Masella said. "Obviously, this is a little bit different of a situation. [Freeh] made it sound like Joe was in charge of everything. He wasn't. He did not make a lot of the decisions on campus, like everybody thinks."

Larry Leise, who represents the group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, places the blame with the trustees and said the only mistake Paterno might have made was following policy of how to report allegations.

"Maybe he should not have," Leise said. "As a football fan, a lot of times Joe Paterno was a little too strict on his playbook. You could always predict what he was going to do. He was very rigid. What he did was perfectly legal, what he thought in his heart was right. He just wanted to do what the law was and what the policies were. For that, I blame Penn State, I don't blame Joe Paterno.

"He's basically the good soldier following orders."

I'm off to the trustees' news conference in Scranton, Pa. Check back later for more.