Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Dueling reports on Penn State Lawyers and legal observers call it the "battle of the experts" -- each side in a legal dispute brings in its own experts who reach a different conclusion based on essentially the same set of facts.
That pretty much sums up the Louis Freeh/Paterno family go 'round.
In July, a report by consultant and former FBI director Freeh, who was hired by the university's board of directors, found that Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, among other higher-ups, failed to protect children from sexual abuse by former Paterno assistant Jerry Sandusky.
But more than that, Freeh said, Paterno was an "integral part" of a coverup of Sandusky's crimes to spare the reputation of the university's storied football program under the legendary coach.
The Freeh report led to the firing of Paterno and unprecedented NCAA sanctions against the university and its football program.
Freeh cited incriminating emails that reference "coach," believing it to be Paterno. One said, "Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands."
But "coach" just as likely could have been Sandusky, since "Jerry" was listed in the email's subject line, according to authors of report compiled for the Paterno family.
Like the Freeh report, the Paterno family report has some heavy hitters, including Dick Thornburgh, a former Pennsylvania governor and one-time U.S. attorney general.
Also contributing to the report were a former FBI profiler and a sexual disorders expert -- a distinct difference from the Freeh report.
Thornburgh and the others say they found no evidence that Paterno deliberately covered up Sandusky's crimes against children.
So, whom to believe?
NCAA officials believed Freeh, and they took the harsh steps they did against Penn State, including banning the Nittany Lions from a bowl appearance for four years.
Paterno backers -- and there are many of them -- may find some solace in the findings of the Paterno report. But with Paterno gone -- he died on Jan. 22, 2012, at age 85 -- the public may never know the full story.
One fact is not in dispute -- at some point Paterno alerted the administration about allegations against Sandusky. Yet, when no action was taken by his superiors, Paterno did nothing further. His admission, "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more," expressed his regret in not doing so.
An average person might not have done more. But Paterno was no average Joe. He was a brilliant strategist. The builder of a multi-million-dollar football empire. A legendary coach.
The Thornburgh report will not resolve the debate over Paterno's actions -- or inaction. Nor is it likely to change the NCAA's sanctions, at least not anytime soon.
But it should give pause to those who accepted at face value the findings of the Freeh report.
When a former U.S. attorney general says there was no evidence to support the findings, that analysis of the evidence must be taken seriously.
The rehabilitation of Joe Paterno's legacy may be under way.
Like the Freeh report, the Paterno family report has some heavy hitters, including former Gov. Dick Thornburgh.