Report causes little ripple at PSU Altoona

Penn State Altoona was buzzing with activity Monday afternoon, but the word on students’ lips was spring, not Paterno.

Joe Paterno’s family commissioned its own investigation in response to former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report that faulted the late coach and other top university officials in July for covering up abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys.

Paterno’s family hired the King & Spalding law firm as well as former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thonburgh, former FBI profiler and behavioral expert Jim Clemente and Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine physician and psychologist Fred Berlin to look into the Freeh report.

All of them said the Freeh report is “deeply flawed and that key conclusions regarding Joe Paterno are unsubstantiated and unfair.”

But the family’s report, released Sunday, was not being widely discussed at the university’s Altoona campus on Monday.

In fact, few, if any, students said they had gotten the chance to read it.

Some students said they were tired of hearing about the scandal and would rather focus on their schoolwork and part-time jobs. They said they would not read it.

Others said they don’t need to; they stand by their former coach.

“I always thought it was wrong that they blamed Joe Paterno,” said 19-year-old freshman Lucero Collado. “He tried to take it up to the board [actually other university officials], but they didn’t do anything.”

Alex Kinney, a 22-year-old senior, said even though he cares about the issue, he doesn’t think much will change.

He hasn’t read the Paterno report yet, but he did read the Freeh report, which he said he found to be biased.

“I don’t think they did proper research,” he said. “It was very much character assassination.”

Kinney said while he believes in Paterno, he doesn’t think the new report will have much impact since the damage has been done.

However, he hopes it will change NCAA officials’ minds about the $60 million fine and other sanctions imposed on the university.

The Paterno report said as much, accusing Freeh of anointing himself, “the judge, jury and executioner” who decided to redefine Jerry Sandusky’s personal crimes as a Penn State and Joe Paterno football scandal – a move that led to the athletic association setting down “draconian” penalties.

The Paterno response said after the release of the Freeh report, media outlets took its conclusions as fact and ruined Paterno’s reputation. While “that bell can never be unrung,” the response reads, “many associated errors can be corrected.”

Its accusations reached further, saying Freeh’s unfounded conclusions damaged not only Paterno, but negatively impacted Penn State University’s students, alumni and community members, and did a disservice by failing to educate the public on the dangers of child sexual victimization – thereby harming Sandusky’s victims, as well.

Furthermore, the report blamed Freeh for failing to interview all key witnesses, including Paterno, and for interpreting with a “clarity and decisiveness that is impossible to justify” given the gray areas of the case.

Senior Nathan Krahe, 30, said regardless of the conflicting reports, he believed Paterno should have done more and it’s hard to justify staying silent “if you know something.”

Even so, he doesn’t want to see students punished for something its coaches and administrators did. It’s not Penn State’s fault that Sandusky was a child molester, he said, and that fact shouldn’t hurt the university.

There may have been outside circumstances, which no one will ever understand fully, he said, but despite being Penn State proud, he can see the other side.

“My dad went to Penn State, so I’m all about Penn State,” he said. “But the people in charge should have said something.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.