I have actually read the Freeh Report. It’s part of my job, of course, but it wasn’t that exhaustive a thing to do. It really isn’t 278 pages or whatever, since much of that is appendices regarding procedural details, Penn State human resources policy, etc.
My first reaction was that it’s an impressive report that essentially confirmed things I strongly suspected. My second reaction is that there are people determined to believe Penn State’s board of trustees is trying to pin this mess on Joe Paterno, and this isn’t going to be enough to convince those people otherwise.
Franco Harris, for example, loves Joe Paterno and hates the Board of Trustees. I’m surprised it took this long, but now there’s a letter, from Harris and fellow ex-PSU players Rudy Glocker and Christian Marrone, that has already been sent to Penn State alumni and, they say, will be published in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.
The AP obtained the letter and ran a story Friday that included the following:
The players say Freeh made what he deemed “reasonable conclusions” about Paterno’s alleged “cover-up” based on three emails. But the emails, two from 1998 and one from 2001, do not support that conclusion, the players say.
The players say an email from Curley to then-Penn State University President Graham Spanier dated May 5, 1998, was used as evidence by the report to conclude “Paterno was fully and completely informed of the details of the investigation” of allegations against Sandusky.
“But how does Mr. Freeh know for sure?” the players say in the letter. “Freeh’s investigators did not interview Curley, and Penn State President Graham Spanier (who was interviewed), didn’t remember the email at all.”
OK, here we go again: On May 3, 1998, according to Centre County and University police records, Jerry Sandusky showered with an 11 year-old boy in the Lasch Building. They did much more than share the same space while showering (you are referred to the report; the portion in question begins on page 41).
The boy’s mother reported the incident, and in the course of the resultant investigation Sandusky admitted to showering with the boy, saying he loved the boy, acknowledged bear-hugging the boy in the shower and saying, to the mother, with investigators hiding in another room, “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”
At 5 p.m. May 4 (one day after the shower), Gary Schultz attended a meeting (other attendees unknown) about the incident/investigation. Freeh obtained Shultz’ handwritten notes from the meeting, which include phrases like, “behavior at best inappropriate, @ worst sexual improprieties,” and “critical issue – contact w/genitals,” and “boy’s friend claims same thing happened to him.”
At 9 a.m. May 5 (again, pay attention to the dates), Shultz met with PSU police chief Thomas Harmon, who reported more detail on the victim and his friend based on a second interview with the victim (page 48), and that child welfare authorities had been notified. Schultz’ final note on the meeting read: “Is this the opening of a Pandora’s Box? Other children?”
On 5:24 p.m. that same day, Tim Curley sent an e-mail to Schultz and Graham Spanier, with the subject line “Joe Paterno,” that read, “I have touched base with coach. Keep us posted. Thanks.”
Franco Harris wants to believe, and wants you to believe, that it’s reasonable to think that that e-mail may not have referred to the showering incident and investigation thereof, and that therefore it’s reasonable to conclude there’s a chance Joe didn’t know about the incident/investigation.
The word proof, precisely defined, is a tricky thing, so let’s say I find that so implausible that it’s an insane thing for adults to even consider. I think 99.9 percent of conclusions we draw in life – even personal, life-changing conclusions – are drawn from exponentially less evidence than this one.
Harris et al are correct that the e-mail, coupled with Schultz’ notes, do not prove Paterno was “fully and completely informed of the details of the investigation.” It does prove, far beyond reasonable doubt, that he knew the incident/investigation existed. If you accept that Joe knew about the incident/investigation (and, again, it is very, very, very, very close to impossible that he didn’t), then the very minimum he can be flatly accused of is giving false information to a grand jury and to the media.
Beyond that, once he was informed the incident/investigation existed, shouldn’t he have made it his job to be fully and completely informed of the details? Remember that this was 1998. Sandusky was still Joe’s defensive coordinator. If nothing else, how could he not have called Sandusky in and asked, “Jerry…. what the hell is going on here?”
And if he did that in 1998, how could he forget about it in 2011, unless he was too old to remember anything, in which case he was pathetically unfit to be Penn State’s head football coach?
I’m bending over backwards here to the point of fracturing vertebrae. It’s true that we don’t know the maximum Joe could be accused of, and probably never will. But there’s no sensible debate about the minimum.
C’mon, Franco. You’re not helping anybody or anything. Let it go.