Jerry Sandusky interview: Paterno family says it’s an “insult to victims”

Jerry Sandusky was sentenced last October. (Gene J. Puskar / AP) Jerry Sandusky was sentenced last October. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)

In an interview on the “Today” show, a documentary filmmaker played audio excerpts of interviews he conducted with Jerry Sandusky, who is serving a minimum 30-year prison sentence for child sexual abuse.

John Ziegler, who is making a documentary called “The Framing of Joe Paterno,” spoke with Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for the late former Penn State coach, several times over the telephone and told Matt Lauer that he knows the identity of Victim No. 2, who did not testify at Sandusky’s trial. Lauer kept Ziegler from revealing the victim’s name.

It was a curious interview that revealed little — and the Paterno family sought over the weekend to distance itself from Ziegler’s work. In the brief tape excerpts, Sandusky, who did not testify at his trial, questioned Penn State’s investigation, conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, and said witness Mike McQueary, a former assistant coach, misinterpreted what he saw in the Penn State shower, when Sandusky was raping a child. McQueary testified that he reported it to Paterno. “That would have been the last thing I would have thought about,” Sandusky said. “I would have thought maybe fooling around or something like that.”

Sandusky also said that Paterno would not have let him coach if he had suspected Sandusky was a pedophile. “If he [Paterno] absolutely thought I was [a pedophile], I’d say no,” Sandusky, whose final season as a coach was in 1998, said. “If he had a suspicion, I don’t know the answer to that.”

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Paterno family lawyer Wick Sollers released a statement released shortly after midnight, saying:

“The release of the audio recording of Jerry Sandusky is a sad and unfortunate development. Sandusky had the opportunity to speak, under oath, during his trial and he chose not to do so. Releasing a recording at this time, nearly a year after he was found guilty on 45 counts, is transparently self-serving and yet another insult to the victims and anyone who cares about the truth in this tragic story.

“The Paterno family would prefer to remain silent on this matter, but they feel it is important to make it clear that they had no role in obtaining or releasing this recording. Moreover, they believe that any attempt to use this recording as a defense of Joe Paterno is misguided and inappropriate. I encourage anyone who wants to understand the facts of this case to go to Paterno.com and read the reports of former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, former FBI profiler, James Clemente, noted pedophilia expert, Dr. Fred Berlin and the King & Spalding legal team.

“From the beginning, the family has been committed to due process and a careful, objective examination of the facts. This is the path they will continue to follow.”

Over the weekend, Paterno’s son, Scott, tweeted: “Why would we oppose Ziegler’s analysis if it credibly exonerated Dad? We oppose it b/c it seeks to do so with a false narrative. A false narrative in support of JVP [Joe Paterno] is no better than Freeh’s false narrative condemning him — truth is the only narrative we endorse.”

Ziegler replied on FramingPaterno.com that he is “shocked and saddened” that the Paternos have rushed to judgment on his work. “I am baffled as to how Scott Paterno thinks we can even possibly put all of the pieces of this puzzle together without having the central figure in this story give his full account.”

Ziegler claims to have Ziegler claims to have more tapes of conversations with Sandusky, who is housed at State Correctional Institution Greene, in Waynesburg, Pa. Video interviews are not permitted.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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Alex Prewitt · March 25, 2013