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John Ziegler Discusses Sandusky Interview on Today Show

Jerry Sandusky’s voice aired briefly on national TV this morning for the first time since his conviction in June 2012. John Ziegler, filmmaker and the force behind Framing Paterno, appeared on the Today Show to discuss and air clips from his interview with Sandusky from prison. Ziegler, who was interviewed by NBC Today Show’s Matt Lauer, said his aim is to redeem Joe Paterno’s legacy, whom he repeatedly said was “railroaded.”

The very brief clips aired, and Ziegler’s commentary on them, questioned some of the key facts in the Sandusky case, mostly concerning the 2001 shower incident that Mike McQueary witnessed. Of the full three-and-a-half-hour interview Ziegler conducted with Sandusky, under a minute of audio played on NBC. Sandusky said he doesn’t believe how McQueary interpreted what he witnessed.

“I don’t understand how anyone would  have walked into that locker room from where he was and hear sounds associated with sex going on,” Sandusky said.

Sandusky added that they might be interpreted as “fooling around or something.”

Ziegler also said he had made contact with Victim 2 (who was the one in the shower incident), and that Victim 2’s “interpretation” of that night had changed over time. He also claimed that he had an interview that Victim 2 did with the FBI in 2011 that discredited Sandusky’s accusers and said that Mike McQueary was lying. Lauer reminded Ziegler during this portion that, due to NBC standards, they would not reveal Victim 2’s identity.

Ziegler himself never accused Mike McQeary of lying, but rather of changing memory over the course of 10 years, and being pressured by the prosecution into shaping his story in the way that he did. He said that the conversation between McQueary and Paterno following the incident, which had been a main focus of evaluating Paterno’s reaction to Sandusky, shifted the focus incorrectly, and that a conversation between Sandusky and then-Athletic Director Tim Curley was the more important one.

“Victim 2 was going to back up Jerry Sandusky, Sandusky was an innocent man to Tim Curley, and that’s why Tim Curley did what he did, and that’s why Penn State acted the way they did,” Ziegler said.

Seeming to qualify Ziegler’s statements, however, was this one on the Sandusky verdict, after being pressed for an answer by Lauer: “I have no doubt that Jerry Sandusky was guilty of many of things, if not all the things, that he was accused of, but I do believe there were due process problems with the trial.”

Earlier this morning, in anticipation of the the Today segment, the Paterno family released a statement dismissing Ziegler’s interview as “transparently self-serving and yet another insult to the victims and anyone who cares about the truth in this tragic story…[the Paternos] believe that any attempt to use this recording as a defense of Joe Paterno is misguided and inappropriate.” Ziegler responded by calling the statement “sad” and that his interview with Sandusky was necessary for finding “the truth.”

Ziegler claims that his work is making progress to exonerate Joe Paterno. “I think we’re much closer today because of the three-and-a-half-hour interviews I have done with the central figure in this story.”

Ziegler will also be interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN, which will air at 9 p.m. tonight.

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About the Author

Dan McCool

Dan is a senior and has been writing for Onward State since January 2010. Did you miss him? Nah, neither did we. He's returning after a semester abroad in England and will be serving as Arts Editor. Favorite things in life include references to The Big Lebowski.

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