PSU trustee: Report needs look
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A Penn State trustee has called on the university governing board to re-examine the findings of former FBI director Louis Freeh's school-sanctioned investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The critique released this weekend by Joe Paterno's family raised "serious and troubling" questions about Freeh's findings, trustee Alvin Clemens said Monday in a statement.
Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh was among the experts brought in by the Paterno family to review the Freeh report, which concluded that Paterno and other university officials covered up allegations against Sandusky to spare the university bad publicity. The family's review said the cover-up claims were inaccurate, were unfounded and equated to a "rush to injustice."
Former Penn State running back Franco Harris was also critical of the Freeh report.
"You should not believe the Freeh report ... no way does it show there was a conspiracy and coverup," he said on "The Doug Gottlieb Show" on CBS Sports Radio.
"Nobody gave (Paterno) the benefit of the doubt ... without an evidence," he added.
Nike co-founder Phil Knight issued a statement blasting the Freeh report's characterization of Paterno.
Following the release last year of Freeh's report, Knight issued a statement saying he was saddened that Paterno apparently made missteps that led to "heartbreaking consequences."
But Knight now says that he may have jumped to conclusions, after Thornburgh's report.
"When this tragic story first unfolded Joe cautioned all of us to slow down and carefully gather the facts before jumping to conclusions," Knight said in the statement. "We owed it to the victims, he said, to get to the truth. It was counsel we all should have followed."
Sandusky, a former assistant coach under Paterno, was convicted of 45 child sex abuse counts. He was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison last fall but still maintains his innocence.
Paterno died in January 2012 at age 85.
The NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions on Penn State less than two weeks after Freeh released his stinging findings in July.
Freeh's firm was hired by the board of trustees to perform "an independent, full and complete investigation of the Sandusky scandal," said Clemens, a trustee since 1995. "In addition to questions about accuracy and fairness, there is little question that the Freeh report is less than complete."
Through a spokesman, the school declined comment on Clemens' request.
Penn State had said Sunday that Freeh was brought in to conduct an independent investigation of the school's response to the allegations, and not actions of entities unrelated to Penn State. Freeh offered 119 recommendations to strengthen governance and compliance, the majority of which have been implemented, the school said.
Freeh's report has never been formally discussed by the board as a whole. At the time of its release in July, trustees said they had accepted responsibility for failures of accountability.
The public should devote equal time reading the Paterno family's critique and the Freeh report, said another trustee, former football player Adam Taliaferro. He joined the board last summer, but was not a trustee at the time of Paterno's firing in November 2011.
In a phone interview, Taliaferro said Monday the board was off to a good start in implementing Freeh's recommendations. "But for me, personally, it wouldn't hurt for us to look at both sides ... There are always two sides to a story," he said.
Paterno's family offered its answer to the Freeh report on Sunday, with experts attacking what they called flawed techniques and a lack of evidence.
Paterno's widow, Sue, and three of the Paternos' children spoke with Katie Couric in an interview that aired on her syndicated TV show Monday. Former NFL linebacker and Nittany Lion standout Greg Buttle defended Paterno on the program as someone who would have taken issue and "taken care of it" if the coach knew of Sandusky's crimes.
"Joe Paterno didn't conspire to do anything," Buttle said. "The conspiracy to me was perpetrated by a cabal of trustees, and others that felt they needed a convenient way out to relieve Penn State of what had happened."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.