Paternos to conduct own review

Updated: July 16, 2012, 2:14 PM ET
By Don Van Natta Jr. | ESPN.com

The family of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has instructed its lawyer to form a "group of experts" to conduct a comprehensive review of the facts and conclusions presented last week in the Freeh report.

"We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed by the Freeh Group," Wick Sollers, the lawyer for the Paterno family, said in a statement Monday. "Mr. Freeh presented his opinions and interpretations as if they were absolute facts. We believe numerous issues in the report, and his commentary, bear further review."

The Paterno family also said it will ask its team of experts and lawyers "to go beyond the report and identify additional information that should be analyzed."

In addition, the Paterno family has asked the Freeh group to preserve all of its records, notes and materials collected during its eight-month investigation of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at Penn State. Sandusky was convicted last month of 45 counts of molesting 10 boys during a 15-year period.

Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI, was hired by university trustees to conduct the inquiry. Freeh's team interviewed more than 430 people and reviewed more than 3 million documents.

The 267-page report, released July 12, concluded that Paterno -- along with former president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz -- conducted a cover-up of allegations that Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, sexually abused young boys.

Sollers adamantly denied the conclusion of the Freeh report that Paterno covered up allegations of Sandusky's crimes that surfaced from any investigation in 1998 and 2001.

"The 1998 incident was fully and independently investigated by law enforcement officials," Sollers said. "The Freeh report confirms this. It is also a matter of record that Joe Paterno promptly and fully reported the 2001 incident to his superiors. It can certainly be asserted that Joe Paterno could have done more. He acknowledged this himself last fall. But to claim that he knowingly, intentionally protected a pedophile is false."

Since the Freeh report was released, several people, including Spanier and former university general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, have asserted that there are factual inaccuracies in the report.

The trials of Schultz and Curley, who have been charged with perjury, will occur later this year or early next year. Additional charges may be filed. Spanier has not been charged, but a grand jury investigation is ongoing.

"Since various investigations and legal cases are still pending, it is highly likely that additional critical information will emerge," Sollers said. "With that, we want to take this opportunity to reiterate that."

A source close to the Paternos estimated that it may take months, even years, for the Paterno family's team of lawyers and independent experts to conduct the review of the Freeh report.

"The process of reviewing the report and other relevant information is going to be a complicated and time consuming exercise," Sollers said. "It took the The Freeh Group roughly seven months to conduct more than 400 interviews and review 3 million documents. We do not expect or intend to duplicate this effort but we are going to be as thorough as reasonably possible. In the meantime, our attorneys have asked that we not make any further comment on this matter until they are ready to provide an update on their progress."

Sollers pledged that the Freeh report will not be "the last word" on the matter.

"In the meantime," Sollers said, "our attorneys have asked that we not make any further comment on this matter until they are ready to provide an update on their progress."

Don Van Natta Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He can be reached at don.vannatta@espn.com.

Don Van Natta Jr. | email

Senior writer, ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com

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