Paterno report is no game-changer
BY JON RUTTER, Staff Writer
The family of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno took the offensive this week as it defended his actions relating to the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
But a spot check here Tuesday showed no seismic opinion shifts among Penn State watchers.
Exactly what did Paterno know? asked Ed Bunker, a semi-retired PSU graduate who has long supported the school and its football team.
Did Paterno discuss the issue with his wife, Sue Paterno?
That's what Bunker was hoping to learn Monday when the coach's widow spoke at length for the first time since Paterno's death in January 2012.
Sue Paterno did tell ABC talk show host Katie Couric that she and her husband did not know Sandusky was a pedophile.
But few other revelations surfaced, said Bunker, an East Lampeter Township resident who is convinced that Joe Paterno was fooled by Sandusky, his former defensive coordinator.
He believes Sue Paterno is trying to restore a legacy that's likely permanently damaged.
"I didn't really get what I expected" out of the show, Bunker said.
Dan Delgiorno, one of a number of Central Market standholders who love sports, expressed the consensus on Paterno: "I think he got a raw deal."
He believes the school's trustees rushed to judgment and Paterno died before he could fully explain his role in the case.
Paterno was fired by the university in November 2011, four days after Sandusky was arrested and accused of sexually abusing boys over a 14-year period.
An investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded in 2012 that Paterno and other top university officials covered up sexual allegations against Sandusky.
But then came this week's offensive by the coach's family, which kicked off Sunday morning with the release on paterno.com of a report compiled by independent investigators who had examined Freeh's findings at the behest of the Paternos.
The investigators, which included former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh, Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers, former FBI agent and profiler Jim Clements and psychologist Dr. Fred Berlin, appeared on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" show to announce their findings.
The family's report branded the Freeh investigation a "rush to injustice."
Freeh defended his work.
But none of this has been conclusive, Delgiorno said.
"It didn't change my opinion," he said. "Let's put it this way. I hope [Paterno] did not know anything" about the abuse.
Standholder Sue Glouner said that the Paternos hired their own investigators, and predictably got the results they desired.
But Gary Watt, who was buying soft pretzels at the market, believes Thornburgh's involvement in the case adds weight.
"Around here," he said, "Thornburgh has some credibility."
You nevertheless have to remember, Watt added, "every story has two sides."
Another standholder, who asked not to be identified, said he remained skeptical of the Paternos' efforts.
"I don't want to sound anti-Paterno," he said, but he (the coach) knew everything."
Jeff Fritz, who was selling food to Watt, was more inclined to take Sue Paterno's words at face value.
Joe Paterno was focused closely on the arena of football, Fritz said. "My whole gut feeling on Joe Paterno is he didn't know" of the abuse problem, he said.
"By the time that happened," Fritz believes, "Joe's power base had eroded" and he was out of the loop on other issues.
"I'm not so sure he needed his name cleared," added Fritz, who said legacy-burnishing efforts by Paterno's widow and children still leave many stones unturned.
Why did everything happen so fast? Fritz asked. "Why was the NCAA so quick to judge" when it has not done so with several potential scandals at other universities?
Rick Miller, president of the local Penn State Alumni Association chapter, said he stands by his personal impression of Paterno as a decent, down-to-earth man who would not knowingly allow a child to be hurt.
But he said the latest development in the Sandusky saga shows its complexity.
"I just don't think this is as black and white as some people make it out to be," Miller said.
"The biggest thing is ... we don't know the truth."
"I just don't think this is as black and white as some people make it out to be. The biggest thing is ... we don't know the truth."
President of local Penn State alumni chapter