This morning, a critique of the Freeh report made landfall. Commissioned by the Paterno family and conducted by a Washington law firm, King & Spalding, the report offered a harsh rebuttal to the claims made in the Freeh report.
One of its attorneys, Wick Sollers, has been retained by the Paterno family since November 2011. The critique is really a collection of four reports: one by King & Spalding, and the other three by experts in investigative fields and child sex abuse. Ultimately, the critique concludes that the Freeh report reached unfounded conclusions, disregarded evidence, and wrongly condemned Joe Paterno for involvement in a coverup of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky from 1998 on.
In short, it calls the Freeh report a “total failure.”
The review’s contributors, apart from Sollers’ firm, are Dick Thornburgh, former U.S. Attorney General and Governor of Pennsylvania, Jim Clemente, former FBI profiler and child sex crimes expert, and Dr. Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins University, an expert on public health and child sex abuse.
The new report brings no hard proof exonerating anyone implicated in the Freeh report, but rather challenges and critiques the investigative methods of the Freeh report and the conclusions it draws, attacking its credibility and veracity, as well as that of the NCAA in handing down sanctions using the Freeh report as evidence.
“The Freeh report is full of errors, unsupported personal opinions, improper allegations and biased assertions,” it claims. The critique of Freeh’s report asserts that key witnesses in each situation were not interviewed, emails were interpreted incorrectly, conclusions were made without evidential merit, and Furthermore, it claims that neither Paterno nor a “football culture” at Penn State were to blame in this case.
Email chains come under heavy scrutiny, where both the lack of emails and the vague ways in which the emails refer to key figures create a problem of context and interpretation. “The Freeh report relies primarily on a handful of emails, none of which Joe Paterno authored or received.” It also draws on Paterno’s acts of good moral character to assert an incompatibility with his personage and someone who would engage in a 14-year coverup. Moreover, it highlights Jerry Sandusky’s manipulative behavior, by which he “fooled” everyone in the community around him.
All four contributors appeared this morning on ESPN’s investigative program, Outside the Lines, to discuss the report. “[The Freeh Report] is incomplete. It is full of inaccuracies,” said Thornburgh. “It does a tremendous disservice to Penn State, Joe Paterno, and the victims of Jerry Sandusky.”
Louis Freeh has since released a statement standing by his original report, released in July 2012.