Paterno Family Only Succeeds in Opening Old Wounds

Dave Mitchell February 11, 2013 Comments Off on Paterno Family Only Succeeds in Opening Old Wounds

SuePaternoIt seems the Joe Paterno family will not let the Jerry Sandusky incident die. What was thought to be over in October after his trial, and subsequently two weeks ago when Sandusky’s appeal was denied, the case was put to bed and the victims could begin the healing process.

Yet with only Joe in mind, his legacy and records in mind and no consideration of the children involved, the Paterno family initiated their own investigation that was intended to clear the former coach of any wrongdoing in the matter. Instead it’s only served to bring the matter back into the forefront and reopen old wounds.

The Freeh Report is the measuring stick the NCAA used to come to their conclusions. Only eleven days after release of the report, the NCAA placed the school on probation, with the acceptance of the Penn State Trustees. Whether you agree with the type of punishment handed out, disagreeing that something should be done was unquestionable.

Sue Paterno, the widow of Joe who is leading this media blitz, stated in an open letter The NCAA did not conduct an independent investigation of the facts, and admittedly relied on the Freeh report in forming its view of this scandal and meting out draconian penalties.”

The sanctions included a $60 million fine to establish a child abuse endowment, the loss of scholarships, probation, waiver of transfer rules that allowed student-athletes to transfer from Penn State immediately and a four year post-season bowl appearance ban.

Draconian penalties? With all due respect to Mrs. Paterno, which is quickly diminishing, what penalties would she have invoked? A simple “I’m sorry” and let it go at that? Would she have exonerated Jerry Sandusky for all he did? Where is her compassion for the victims who now have to live this crime and personal violation all over again. Possibly her only motivation is her husband’s win total.

Also included was the forfeiture of wins Paterno and the football team accumulated from 1998 to 2011, the years after it was disclosed Sandusky had perpetrated his crimes. Paterno was stripped of 111 wins, depriving him of the record for most wins by a major college coach. Perhaps the university penalties have nothing to do with the Paterno family’s investigation, only the wins subtracted from Joe’s total.

Once the Freeh report was released, the Paterno family asked King & Spalding to conduct a comprehensive review of both the Freeh reportLouisFreeh and Joe Paterno’s handling of the incidents. The purpose was to dispute the Freeh report, and show alternative conclusions.

They authorized the law firm to question experts and expose new ideas. The Paterno report achieves it’s goal, exposing what they say are flaws in the Freeh report and sets the record straight. At least in the Paterno family’s eyes. Yet this report has the same flaws they say the Freeh report has.

The Paterno report says Freeh made accusations and determinations without finding out all the facts. It ascertains Freeh had no subpoena power, so couldn’t question anyone in the report. The same is the case with the Paterno report. No new evidence is offered, no new statements. In fact, they offer only a handwritten note from Joe Paterno himself, written on his deathbed and commented on by one of the “experts” acknowledged in the report, Dr. Fred S. Berlin.

Dr. Berlin founded The Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic and is the Director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma. He examined the note and stated in the report his findings.

Joe Paterno had known very little about the extent of the acts for which Mr. Sandusky had subsequently been convicted. In my judgment, given his history of a life well led, and of good character, and in light of the unsubstantiated nature of the inferences against him, to conclude that for any reason he would have been unconcerned about the well being of children, would require turning a blind eye to the values that he had consistently demonstrated, and to the essence of what his life had been all about.”

Again, with all due respect, Jerry Sandusky to outsiders was believed to have the same credentials in life Dr. Berlin spoke of in terms of Joe Paterno.

Curiously Dr. Berlin came to these conclusions on just a written statement, not an interview with Paterno. This is evidence of the same conclusions the Paterno family says are wrong with the Freeh report.

Besides, if Berlin is correct nonetheless and this was the case, how could Paterno still be held unaccountable for his lack of action? One question worth asking is why would Paterno think after Mike McQueary disclosed what he saw in 2002 his job was only to report the incident to the President and Athletic Director and leave it at that? Wouldn’t a fine, upstanding, morally uncorrupted coach want to follow through on this problem to the very end, instead of leaving it to others and just “forget about it?”

The Paterno Report is over 290 pages long, filled with several accusations and conclusions but curiously missing one thing. Evidence. Not one piece of evidence or documented proof that Freeh was mistaken on anything. The Paterno report is filled with only conjecture and opinion.

Whatever report you wish to hold as gospel one thing is for certain….Jerry Sandusky committed the most despicable and deplorable acts imaginable to the youth he was supposedly trying to help. He used Penn State and his “Second Mile Foundation“ to lure in his victims, completely under the noses of the Penn State President, athletic director and football coach. To plead ignorance would be admitting what Freeh and the NCAA concluded. There was no institutional control of the football program at Penn State.

To even think Joe Paterno, in control of the football program at Happy Valley for over 40 years could not know what was going on, or even what Jerry Sandusky was doing for 27 years is beyond disbelief.

It’s understandable the Paterno family wants to believe in Joe. However this was a failed attempt and only succeeds in dredging up the past.

A past that should stay in jail with Jerry Sandusky.


Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show returns on March 4th, at 9pm with a two-hour special.