Sue Paterno quickly went from excited to devastated last July when the Freeh report was released.
Originally looking forward to the findings in search of the truth, she told Katie Couric on “Katie” in a taped interview that her feelings quickly changed when she saw how Louis Freeh characterized her husband. “I was in a state of disbelief,” said Paterno. “He didn’t know Joe.”
The interview began with an emotional Paterno calling the past year “quite a challenge.” Later segments would feature family attorney Wick Sollers, children Diana, Mary Kay, and Jay Paterno, and former Penn State football players Aaron Maybin and Greg Buttle.
All parties defended the late Joe Paterno for his handling of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, but the most telling line came from Sue Paterno as she pointed out that the director of The Second Mile was a child psychologist and explained to Couric that Sandusky was allowed to adopt children.
“If the experts don’t know, how can we know?” said Paterno.
Earlier in the interview, Paterno told Couric that Sandusky had manipulated everyone around him and she even had to stop reading the November 2011 grand jury presentment because she felt physically ill.
Couric pressed Paterno and asked if her husband should have done more following the 2001 report from then graduate assistant Mike McQueary that Sandusky was in a Lasch Building shower with a young boy.
Paterno responded by saying that Sandusky was always spending time with children and her husband was unaware of what he was really doing.
“If he [Joe] learned what he learned in 2011 about 2001, yes he would have done more, but we didn’t have that benefit of hindsight,” she said.
While the widowed Paterno has not spoken to any of Sandusky’s victims, if given the opportunity, she would tell them that she is “praying for them and hopes they get the help they need.”
As the debate about Joe Paterno’s role in the scandal returns to the spotlight with the latest report and public relations blitz by the Paterno family, how does she want her husband to ultimately be remembered?
“He was real. Everything that he believed and taught, that’s who he was.”