“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Freeh said during a news conference Thursday.
The probe, which includes previously unknown e-mails, deals a crushing blow to the legacy of Paterno, the late coach who took pride in running an honorable program and whose reputation has been on the line since Sandusky’s arrest last November. It eviscerates Spanier, concluding he failed in his duties as president, and chastises the board of trustees at one of the nation’s largest public universities for being out of the loop as the scandal unfolded.
Particularly damaging to Paterno is the examination of the school’s handling of a 1998 criminal investigation into a woman’s accusations that Sandusky had inappropriately touched her 11-year-old son in the Penn State showers. In addition to Spanier and Paterno, athletics director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz were also aware of the case, according to the report. Criminal charges were never brought in the case.
In his final public media interview and in grand jury testimony, Paterno disavowed knowledge of the incident, telling The Post’s Sally Jenkins, “You know, it wasn’t like it was something everybody in the building knew about. Nobody knew about it.”
But in an e-mail captioned “Joe Paterno” and dated May 5, 1998, Curley wrote to Schultz, “I have touched base with the coach. Keep us posted. Thanks.”
The Freeh report’s findings revealed Paterno’s deception in his final days and refute the lack of awareness of Sandusky’s actions that he described in his final interview. As Sally Jenkins wrote:
Joe Paterno was a liar, there’s no doubt about that now. He was also a cover-up artist. If the Freeh report is correct in its summary of the Penn State child molestation scandal, the public Paterno of the last few years was a work of fiction. In his place is a hubristic, indictable hypocrite.
In the last interview before his death, Paterno insisted as strenuously as a dying man could that he had absolutely no knowledge of a 1998 police inquiry into child molestation accusations against his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. This has always been the critical point in assessing whether Paterno and other Penn State leaders enabled Sandusky’s crimes.