Thursday, August 2, 2012

Freeh's Folly: The Report withers under actual scrutiny

The Freeh Report reaches damning conclusions about Joe Paterno despite a glaring lack of evidence against him, and thus has brutally compounded the damage from the tragedy of Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse. But where's the media scrutiny?

It has been three weeks now, and the Freeh Report has been read and re-read, digested and re-digested, by this blog.

Why still parsing through it? Because it's another step in the innate Quest To Know Everything About Everything With Regard To The Sandusky Scandal. A Penn State thing, this quest, I suppose. 

And with each passing day, something is becoming more and more stunning: That the Freeh Report goes completely unexamined and uncritiqued, as if encased in a golden, bulletproof bubble.

No one in the media, no one with a significant voice, no one with a clear mind and no connection to Penn State, has had the inclination to call out the flagrant fundamental defects in the Freeh Report. No one has examined the very real and alarming issues with a few of its assertive, historic and destructive conclusions.

Because the Penn State Board of Trustees and the NCAA accepted it fully - the NCAA inexplicably did no investigating of its own - no one has bothered to notice the foibles of the Freeh Report.

(So then, what is the media doing these days with regard to examining the massive PSU scandal? Is it digging behind Mark Emmert's shocking, unprecedented power play and PSU's complete denial of due process and threatening gestures from the NCAA? Questioning the continued grandstanding by Emmert with his appointment of George Mitchell as the "Athletics Integrity Monitor" for Penn State, a duty any mid-level NCAA employee could perform? Exploring Emmert's astonishingly wrong and slanderous statements about the academic performance of PSU football? Criticizing the lawless, sleazy, Wild West atmosphere the NCAA created by inexplicably allowing college coaches to actively recruit Penn State players immediately and continuously with virtually no restrictions whatsoever, for a year (this is profoundly wrong and shows the NCAA has no grasp of the issue)? With few exceptions, none of the above. Instead, ESPN is trotting out Vicky Triponey for an encore performance, giving the most reviled Director of Student Affairs in UConn and PSU history - for reasons completely unrelated to athletics and extremely well documented by the schools' respective student newspapers at the time, you can look it up - the unfettered platform to once more attack Joe Paterno with impunity. But we digress.)

Considering the Freeh Report led directly to brutal NCAA sanctions against Penn State, the dramatic removal of the statue of Paterno, the vacating of more than 100 football wins and Paterno's all-time wins record, and the public and media evisceration of Penn State and especially Paterno, you might think someone would take a close look at the Freeh Report, no? Preferably someone with a clear mind who doesn't have a default setting of "Paterno is a guilty, child abuse-enabling, lying phony.''

They would see the Freeh Report takes a couple of enormous leaps of logic, or illogic, in place of facts and evidence.

The two key conclusions, or findings, of the Freeh Report regarding Paterno are the following: 

  • FINDING 1: That Paterno convinced AD Tim Curley, and thus also convinced VP Gary Schultz and president Graham Spanier, not to report Sandusky to child welfare authorities, and that Paterno actively concealed knowledge of Sandusky's sexual abuse: "Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University – President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President‐Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno – failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. ... "
  • TRUTH: Virtually no evidence, and zero support for that evidence, whatsoever, that Paterno concealed Sandusky's activities, or that he convinced Curley and the others not to report Sandusky.
  • FINDING 2: That Paterno had significant knowledge of and closely followed the 1998 police investigation of Sandusky, which was initiated by a mother's complaint that Sandusky had bear-hugged her son while they showered: "The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action," Louis Freeh said in his statement to the media on the day the Freeh Report was released.
  • TRUTH: There is no clear evidence Paterno knew the details of the 1998 allegation or of the subsequent investigation. There are plausible reasons to believe he did not know the details and did not follow it closely. That said, there is evidence Paterno likely had knowledge Sandusky was being questioned or investigated for something in 1998. Paterno possibly knew the questioning/investigation was related to some sort of accusation by an underprivileged child connected to Sandusky through the Second Mile, Sandusky's longtime, exalted children's charity, but there is no evidence Paterno knew what the accusation specifically was about - none. There simply isn't any supporting evidence to show otherwise. Also, considering Sandusky was cleared by the District Attorney in the investigation and no charges were filed, what sort of action did Freeh expect Paterno to take? Sandusky had been cleared. by. the. authorities.

Freeh made it clear both of the above conclusions/findings are the direct and sole product of very brief mentions of Paterno in three emails from Curley. That and that alone - three very brief, unsupported email mentions, totaling about 21 words.

One of those three emails, very clearly, may not have been a reference to Paterno at all, but instead may have been a reference to Sandusky. It is an email that says "Jerry" in the subject heading, then references "coach" in the text. The Freeh Report maintains the "coach" reference "is believed to be Paterno." Obviously, there is more reason to believe it is Sandusky, since he is the only coach referenced by name in the email.

So the sum total evidence against Paterno actually might be only two vague, brief mentions, both of which are wholly unsupported by anything else.

Despite 430 interviews and 3.5 million pieces of data (emails, documents) reviewed by Freeh investigators, along with all of Curley's, Schultz's and Spanier's Grand Jury testimony, and hundreds of news stories, nothing else known and verified supports the vague evidence in those 2 or 3 emails - not a single shred of verifying or confirming evidence, from anyone or anything. 

(This might be a good time to point out the significant limitations of the Freeh Report, which have been underreported, and the foolishness of the NCAA for taking action now. The trials of Curley and Schultz, for perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse, are expected to begin soon, and should provide a trove of information about this saga, which would have been very useful to the NCAA if it had waited. Schultz and Curley also highlight the list of those who did not speak with Freeh investigators, as didn't any representatives of the Second Mile children's charity which supplied Sandusky with his victims; past or current PSU general counsel; Paterno or his representatives; some key individuals involved in the 1998 investigation, including Karen Arnold, the Centre County prosecutor in the District Attorney's office, and of course the DA, Ray Gricar, who has been missing since 2005 and has been declared dead; McQueary; or Sandusky. So the report obviously is far from complete. The Freeh Report said Paterno had indicated a couple of weeks before his death in January that he would speak with investigators, but his health did not permit it in his final days. Why the Freeh Report failed to prioritize interviewing Paterno as soon as possible in November/December, when it knew of his severe health problems, is a mystery and dramatic shortcoming.)

Despite this, with rare exceptions, only people with Penn State affiliations have challenged the report's veracity, and their comments have been dismissed as obviously biased (probably by those who haven't read more than a handful of the Freeh Report's 267 pages) and incapable of merit.

To be clear: The facts and evidence of the Freeh Report - compiled by a team of investigators under the direction of Louis Freeh, former FBI Director - are not in dispute here. Just the completely unreasonable, unsupported conclusions about Paterno. (There are other flaws in the report, but not to the level of the ones that crucified Paterno.)

Based on the evidence against him in the Freeh Report, compared with the overwhelming evidence against Schultz/Curley/Spanier and their status as administrators, Paterno played virtually no role in determining how Penn State would handle the 2001 allegation against Sandusky.

Yet Freeh inexplicably concludes it was Paterno who directed the PSU administration to not report Sandusky to child welfare authorities.

And the media hopped right on that runaway train with gusto.

To be fair, some conclusions from the report might hit the target. Penn State administrators, most notably Schultz (who oversaw campus police), Curley and Spanier, tentatively in that order, shirked their responsibility to varying degrees - Schultz to the highest degree, the other two to lesser, uncertain degrees. For whatever reasons, they blew it in 2001. (And in 1999 by granting Sandusky emeritus status upon his retirement from coaching at PSU, despite Schultz and perhaps others knowing the major-red-flag details of his 1998 investigation). Big time. They contributed mightily to the Sandusky disaster. They, and specifically Schultz, never fully grasped in 2001 that McQueary's allegation needed to be investigated by proper authorities, as had been the 1998 allegation.

The report also is critical of the Board of Trustees. There are deep, broad, profound issues with the BOT's conduct, and at first blush it seems the Freeh Report didn't completely overlook the Board's role in this scandal. Then again, it didn't include the BOT in its most scathing conclusions. So really any criticism of the BOT will be disregarded, lost like almost everything else behind the name "Paterno." Perhaps that's just the way Freeh wanted it - critical enough of the Board to seem like an honest appraisal, but ultimately virtually meaningless. So, the Board's many failings will render no repercussions, which is disgraceful.

The conclusions relating to Paterno are drawn from rare, spotty, vague and unsupported evidence. Let's be clear about Paterno, too: He is guilty of not following up strongly on this entire matter in 2002-03. He had the right and responsibility to find out what had been done about McQueary's allegation, and to date no information as come forth indicating he did. Also, he possibly may be guilty of the Freeh Report's conclusions about him. But not yet, no way, not even close, not based on the (lack of) evidence in the report.

No way.

Here's the breakdown of the two major Freeh Report findings against Paterno, and why they are head scratchers:

No. 1
The evidence that Paterno concealed information regarding Sandusky in 2001 is comprised of six words in a solitary email from Curley, to Schultz and Spanier, on Tue., Feb. 27, 2001, which, for context, was: 18 days after McQueary witnessed Sandusky in the showers doing something extremely sexual in nature with a boy; 17 days after McQueary told Paterno a PG-rated version of what he saw (according to both McQueary and Paterno, whose accounts nearly match); 16 days after Paterno told Schultz and Curley about it; approximately 6-7 days after McQueary told Schultz and Curley about what he saw; one of dozens of correspondences - emails, phone calls, meetings, etc. - between Schultz, Curley and Spanier (but not Paterno, who clearly was not in their tight communication circle on this issue) in the days and weeks after McQueary witnessed Sandusky.

This is the Curley email to Schultz/Spanier in its entirety, with the six key words highlighted:

"I had scheduled a meeting with you this afternoon about the subject we discussed on Sunday. After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday‐‐ I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved. I think I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell him about the information we received. I would plan to tell him we are aware of the first situation. I would indicate we feel there is a problem and we want to assist the individual to get professional help. Also, we feel a responsibility at some point soon to inform his organization and [sic] maybe the other one about the situation. If he is cooperative we would work with him to handle informing the organization. If not, we do not have a choice and will inform the two groups. Additionally, I will let him know that his guests are not permitted to use our facilities. I need some help on this one. What do you think about this approach?"

Anyone can read that email and reasonably conclude Paterno may have influenced Curley's feelings about the matter, and about what to do. Or maybe not. It's totally unclear.

There are very many reasons, based on the evidence, to believe Paterno had little or no impact on Curley's decision-making process:
  • At no time before or after this one instance does Curley, or anyone, mention Paterno being involved in any way in the weeks-long decision-making process about Sandusky in 2001. In his extensive Grand Jury testimony and in the evidence provided in the Freeh Report, Curley never mentions Paterno influencing his thoughts on the matter in any way.
  • The email does not say what Curley and Paterno talked about with any specificity. Perhaps Curley asked Paterno to review again what McQueary had told him, to make sure he had all the information accurately. There are many plausible things they could have talked about relating to the matter without the conversation involving Paterno steering or directing Curley in a new direction. 
  • If Paterno did help sway Curley's thoughts about the matter, why wouldn't Curley elaborate on it, even a little bit? He offers no explanation of Paterno's thoughts on the issue, no details whatsoever of his conversation with Paterno, no explanation why or how Paterno swayed his thoughts, no elaboration on how or why Paterno may have changed his mind.
  • Curley indicates he was changing his mind before talking with Paterno: "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday‐‐ I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps." Curley's discomfort came about before talking with Paterno, the email suggests.
  • After mentioning Paterno, Curley then explains how he now feels about the issue, and it could not be more clear that he his expressing his own feelings, not feelings he shares with or gleaned from Paterno, or anyone else. How do we know this? Curley uses the pronoun "I" six times in the next five sentences as he expresses his thoughts, and never at any time in the remainder of the email does he include Paterno in any way. Curley uses "we" eight times after the Paterno reference, and on none of those occasions is he including Paterno as part of the "we" - he always is referring to himself, Schultz and Spanier. This makes it very clear Paterno was not a factor.
  • It is overwhelmingly clear in the extensive interactions between Schultz, Curley and Spanier, as documented in the Freeh Report and in the Grand Jury testimony, that no one but these three is involved in the decision-making process.
  • There is no supporting evidence whatsoever indicating Paterno swayed Curley (and therefore swayed Schultz and Spanier as well). No witness statements, no colleagues or associates or executive assistants providing any supporting knowledge or insight, no email responses from Schultz or Spanier asking how or why Paterno impacted Curley's thoughts. Nothing.

The Freeh Report, in an attempt to trump up its claim that this email is indicative of Paterno strong-arming Curley into concealing Sandusky's actions, immediately follows up the Curley email by trying to paint Curley as Paterno's lapdog and as an inferior administrator:

"Several people told the (Freeh investigators) that Curley is a State College native with a long family history at Penn State, including his father and brothers who worked at Penn State. A senior Penn State official referred to Curley as Paterno’s “errand boy.” Athletic Department staff said Paterno’s words carried a lot of weight with Curley, who would run big decisions by Paterno. Others interviewed described Curley as “loyal to a fault” to University management and the chain of command, someone who followed instructions regardless of the consequences, and someone who avoided confrontation."

(By the way, did the Freeh investigators really need to be told Curley was from State College? Their prep research didn't reveal that on day one?)

Talk to 430 people about someone, and you'll find every opinion imaginable. Where are the complimentary comments about Curley? By all accounts he generally was well-liked, so surely some people were complimentary, no? Also, the "loyal to a fault to University management and the chain of command" comment actually would indicate Curley wasn't under Paterno's thumb, since Paterno was below Curley on the chain of command, though of course not in stature and power. As for Paterno's words carrying a lot of weight with Curley, well of course they did; any veteran football coach's words carry a lot of weight with the AD. His words are not going to be the equivalent of the assistant field hockey coach's words, for example, of course.

Here are some other thoughts about Curley, borrowed and tweaked from a post on this blog a few weeks ago:

"Spanier/Schultz/Curley were extremely experienced, entrenched, relatively powerful, veteran, high-ranking administrators. Curley, who was then 47 (a few years younger than both Schultz and Spanier, who were in their early 50s) and in his eighth year as PSU athletic director, was no longer someone working at the whim of a Joe Paterno he had idol-worshipped his entire life, and who would fall victim to Paterno's wrath if he defied him.
"That may have been true when Curley was 25 or 30. But no professional adult as accomplished and mature as Curley was in 2001 stands in awe of anyone from a professional standpoint. Once you’ve seen behind the wizard’s curtain, and once you've reached your own mountaintop, there’s no going back. Paterno and Curley had been colleagues for 20-plus years, and Curley was now in his 8th year directing a massive, extremely successful major college athletic department. This isn’t to say Curley could not be swayed or influenced by the legendary and powerful Paterno - almost surely he could have been on some matters. But playing the “awe” card on someone as acclaimed and experienced as Curley just seems farfetched. It’s possible Curley was still in awe of Paterno, but it’s very unlikely.
"In reality, the Spanier/Schultz/Curley trio had been at the top of the PSU administrative tower for many years and were among the most respected and powerful in their respective fields in the Big Ten, if not the nation. Curley and Spanier were extremely highly regarded nationally during this century, and Spanier very well might have been on track to become NCAA president someday. Of note: They all continued unencumbered at their respective administrative posts after trying to strong-arm the 78-year-old Paterno into retiring in 2004, or at least into establishing a clear timeline to his retirement. In other words, while Paterno was barely hanging onto his job, they were at their professional peaks. Had PSU football faltered to another sub-.500 record in 2005, they surely would have terminated Paterno’s coaching career no matter what Paterno tried to do to stop them. The point: They were big boys. They weren’t Paterno’s lackeys. There just isn't evidence to support that premise." 

This one Curley email with the one vague Paterno reference is Freeh's smoking gun, but it fires blanks. Besides Curley's solitary mention of Paterno, every other thing known to have been done by Curley and Schultz with regard to this matter - as presented in the Freeh Report, as indicated in their email exchanges and notes, and as enumerated in their lengthy Grand Jury testimony - indicates Paterno played virtually no part in their decision-making process regarding Sandusky.

Reality: Paterno reported the matter to Curley and Schultz a day later, and he also ensured they spoke with McQueary directly themselves, so they heard it straight from his mouth and not just from Paterno. And Curley and Schultz of course report to Spanier, and they passed the information along to Spanier, who should have forwarded it to the Board of Trustees, but we now know he did not.

If that's an attempt by Paterno to "conceal evidence," to keep any abusive behavior by Sandusky covered up, well then Paterno is a wizard at disguising his intentions, because it sure seems like he did the exact opposite. And remember, by telling Schultz, Paterno was telling the guy who oversaw campus police, and essentially handing it off to him. If anybody on the planet should have known how to handle the situation, it was Schultz. 

Again, maybe Paterno was acting behind the scenes to try to keep the entire matter in-house. There's just no real evidence of it, not yet at least, no way. Despite what the Freeh Report says.

And even though Penn State has "accepted" the findings in the Freeh Report and NCAA has acted on the Freeh Report with crushing, exceedingly punitive force, in reality the upcoming Curley/Schultz trial is another huge piece of this troubling, confounding and most elaborate puzzle, perhaps every bit as important, or moreso, than the Freeh Report. We'll see.

No. 2
Complicating this one is the confounding disappointment that Sandusky, despite an investigation by proper authorities in 1998 - he was in their grasp - did not have charges brought against him. Charges and further investigation likely would have led to the discovery of much more evidence against him - many of the crimes Sandusky ultimately was convicted of occurred before 1998 - and his reign of terror ending more than a decade earlier. Sigh.

The following is from Louis Freeh's statement to the media on the day the Freeh Report was released:

"The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s. At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building."

This is a completely misguided and irresponsible statement, based on the evidence. Sandusky was cleared by the proper authorities - what was Paterno supposed to tell the football staff? Beware of false accusations?

The evidence Freeh references in this statement would be contained in two emails from Curley to Schultz (among the great many correspondences they exchanged) during the few weeks of the investigation, which began May 4, a day after an alleged incident in which Sandusky bear-hugged a boy while showering. And as mentioned earlier, one of these two emails likely was a reference to Sandusky, not Paterno.

The two emails, as excerpted from the report:
  • By May 5, 1998, Schultz had communicated with Curley about the Sandusky incident. In an email from Curley to Schultz and Spanier at 5:24 p.m. captioned “Joe Paterno,” Curley reports, “I have touched base with the coach. Keep us posted. Thanks.”
  • As the investigation progressed, Curley made several requests to Schultz for updates. On May 13, 1998 at 2:21 p.m., Curley emailed Schultz a message captioned “Jerry” and asked, “Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands.”
There is no knowing how many times Curley connected with Paterno on the matter. Presumably it was at least three times total, maximum - the two (or one) mentioned in the emails above, plus at some point Paterno had to have been told the issue, whatever the issue was, had been resolved and Sandusky was in the clear - but we really don't know.

And neither does Louis Freeh.

Taken at face value, the emails are evidence Paterno may have inquired once about the investigation. Is inquiring once - and he may or may not have inquired once - the equivalent of "followed it closely?" No, of course not. So Freeh's statement is an unquestioned exaggeration, at best, and purposely misleading at worst. It is scary to think Freeh took such specious information and made such a destructive conclusion from it.

Which is typical of Freeh's work, and that of the media, in this matter: a continuous stream of exaggerations which create a false reality about what is known about Paterno and this scandal.

Another example of the exaggerations, from the Freeh Report: "Despite Spanier's, Schultz's, Paterno's, and Curley's knowledge of criminal investigations regarding child abuse as early as 1998, they failed to control Sandusky's access to the University's facilities and campuses."

Reality: There was one investigation, in which a child was uncomfortable that Sandusky showered with him and playfully picked him up from behind in the shower. Authorities investigated, Sandusky spoke with the alleged victim's mother twice, one time with police officers hiding in her house to hear what was said. Two different psychologists interviewed the child. The police concluded no crime had occurred and the DA did not file charges, also concluding that no crime had occurred.

The big problem here is lumping Paterno in with Schultz. There is unequivocal evidence Schultz knew the details of the 1998 investigation. So Schultz knew that Sandusky easily could have been charged in 1998 - there would seem to have been enough evidence, including the fact that the investigation found another boy who alleged to have been squeezed in the shower in a similar manner by Sandusky - and thus should have had the university on high alert about Sandusky.

Yet, as is explained in the Freeh Report, PSU Human Resources was not alerted to this investigation. So it was not in Sandusky's personnel file. So when Spanier signed off on Sandusky's emeritus status a couple years later, Human Resources had no red flag to question the decision.

It is unknown and unclear what Paterno knew in 1998. That's a fact. The evidence re: Paterno is a sliver of what it is for Schultz, and Curley and Spanier. People may suppose Paterno "knew everything" because he was Paterno, but the evidence simply isn't there. Also, while Paterno may have had significant input into university policy if it pertained to him somehow, and probably could "get his way" on some matters, it is administrators who actually make policy and decisions, such as the disastrous, brain-dead decision to grant Sandusky emeritus status when he retired in 1999.

These emails were two of dozens of communications during the investigation from among Curley, Schultz and Spanier. The investigation continued for about three more weeks. At no time, in any form, was there any explanation or indication of what Curley might have told Paterno when he "touched base," or thereafter.

What we know about Paterno and the 1998 investigation - or rather, what we probably know, since there is no certainty Curley is accurately conveying the facts in his two emails (or one) that reference Paterno - is the following:
  1. Curley told Paterno something about the matter - he "touched base with the coach" - near the beginning of the investigation, but we don't know what he said, and
  2. Curley said 8 days later that "coach" wanted to know where things stood. Coach might have meant Paterno, but it probably meant Sandusky. Which means this email is meaningless.
It is reasonable to think Curley told Paterno something. It seems unlikely he would lie about contacting Paterno about the matter, as Curley indicates in the first email. But what did he say? There are many reasons to believe he did not share the details of the investigation with Paterno, and there is no evidence he did share details. Inferences or assumptions about what Curley told Paterno can be drawn from the 1-2 emails above, but no actual evidence.

Why wouldn't Curley share the details of the investigation with Paterno? Many reasons. First, Curley might not have been privy to all of the details, as the information flowed from the various people involved in the investigation to the campus police, then to Schultz, then to Curley and then possibly Paterno.

Information can get distorted or minimized along such a chain. Perhaps, for example, the campus police and/or Schultz wanted to ensure there was no interference from powerful university figures such as Paterno. This is very plausible because in fact university police detective Ron Schreffler said that at the beginning of the investigation he was worried about "Old Main sticking their nose in the investigation."

Schreffler said he did some things relating to the investigation for the express purpose of trying to prevent "Old Main sticking their nose in," such as immediately contacting Arnold, the Centre County prosecutor. Thus it is not farfetched that Schreffler might have wanted Paterno to be misled or underinformed about the matter, fearing Paterno might try to intervene in some way and muck things up. In fact, while Schreffler's "Old Main" reference would seem to be pointed at Spanier and/or those closest to Spanier, perhaps it was, at least indirectly, pointed at Paterno.

(The Freeh Report concluded the investigation was conducted properly and without interference, despite letting Sandusky get away.)

Also, Curley himself may not have wanted Paterno to know all the details, for any number of reasons.

Maybe he felt it unfair to spread word of such an allegation without a proper investigation.

Perhaps he feared Paterno trying to get involved and messing things up somehow.

Perhaps Curley purposely misled or underinformed Paterno regarding what the investigation was about, to remove any opportunity for him to interfere.

Perhaps he didn't want Paterno to spend time thinking about such things if he didn't have to and instead focus on his job.

Perhaps Curley thought the allegation was baseless and refused to discuss something potentially heinous with anyone, at least until charges were filed.

Perhaps Curley, as a matter of policy, let his coaches know only what he felt they needed to know at that time about any sort of potential controversy or problem or legal matter or investigation, thinking such a policy was in everyone's best interests, and kept the information circle as tight as possible. This would seem to be a prudent policy for an AD, and thus maybe Curley thought Paterno only needed to know that there was an inquiry into Sandusky, and Curley would let the coach know if it amounted to anything.

Maybe he didn't even tell him that much. Maybe he told Paterno a little more than that, maybe Curley said it had to do with an allegation (while not specifying the allegation) from a Second Mile kid. To Paterno, that would seem very plausible and probably innocuous; after all, Sandusky had been selflessly and tirelessly working with disadvantaged youths for 25 years - that was the Sandusky everyone knew at that time. That one kid might make some sort of an accusation over a misunderstanding, or over any number of things, well, perhaps it was surprising it hadn't happened sooner, Paterno reasonably could have thought. Right?

And then when Sandusky was cleared, Paterno might never have given it much more of a thought.

Any of these are possibilities, and there are many more plausible possibilities too, based on the evidence - evidence which is a fraction as strong as Freeh makes it out to be.

The way-overreaching by Freeh to implicate Paterno seems a lot like FBI Director Louis Freeh, who after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing declared Richard Jewell the prime suspect, investigated him for nearly three months and destroyed his life, before clearing him, quietly, with a memo to Jewell's attorney. The following is from a Vanity Fair story from 1997:

"It has become common to characterize the F.B.I.'s investigation of Richard Jewell as the epitome of false accusation. The phrase "the Jewell syndrome," a rush to judgment, has entered the language of newsrooms and First Amendment forums. On the night of Jewell's press conference, a commentator on CNN's Crossfire compared Jewell's situation to "Kafka in Prague." The case became an investigative catastrophe, which laid bare long-simmering resentments of many F.B.I. career professionals regarding the micromanagement style and imperious attitude of Louis Freeh and his inner circle of former New York prosecutors, who have worked together since their days at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District. Within the bureau, the beleaguered director now has a new nickname: J. Edgar Hoover with children. Like Freeh, those near him have also acquired a nickname: Louie's yes-men."


So then, did Joe Paterno lie about, or perhaps purposely mislead about, his knowledge of the 1998 investigation, or his lack of knowledge? Maybe. It's impossible to say, because it's clearly not clear what he might have known about it. Despite what Freeh and national columnists might indignantly declare. The evidence simply isn't there, and to say otherwise, well, that is a lie. A lie.

Another great unknown here, and what everyone who truly is interested in this scandal wants to know, is how in the world Sandusky wasn't charged, or at least investigated further, in 1998? His conversations with the mother, heard by investigators, seemed highly suspicious. Also, there was the second boy, who said the same thing as the first boy about a shower experience with Sandusky. More evidence, solid supporting evidence.

But the most glaring evidence was the report written by the first of two psychologists connected to the case, Alycia Chambers. It is an epic tragedy this report was not heeded.

From the Freeh Report: Chambers made a report to the Pennsylvania child abuse line and also consulted with colleagues. Her colleagues agreed that “the incidents meet all of our definitions, based on experience and education, of a likely pedophile’s pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch, within a context of a ‘loving,’ ‘special’ relationship." ... On May 7, 1998, Chambers provided a copy of her written report to Schreffler. Chambers said she was pleased with the response of the agencies involved, as the “gravity of the incidents seems to be well appreciated.”

The Department of Public Welfare had taken over the case on May 5, two days after the alleged shower incident and one day after the mother of the boy had contacted university police. From the Freeh Report: "DPW officials in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania took the lead because of Sandusky’s high profile and assigned it to caseworker Jerry Lauro. ... Also on May 7, 1998, Lauro interviewed the boy’s mother. According to Schreffler’s notes, Lauro had received copies of the boy’s recorded statement, yet Lauro advised the (Freeh investigators) that he did not have full access to the facts of the case and was unaware of psychologist Chambers’ evaluation. Lauro said that if he “had seen [Chambers’] report, I would not have stopped the investigation,” which he thought at the time fell into a “gray” area and involved possible “boundary” issues.

So there you have it. While there are many more relevant facts to the 1998 investigation, ultimately Lauro says he, inexplicably, never saw Chambers' report. Another psychologist later filed a report that disagreed with Chambers. Lauro apparently saw that one, and that made the difference to him.

Thus Sandusky continued abusing boys.

At least that's what the Freeh Report evidence shows. But Arnold and some other key persons never spoke to Freeh investigators.

Clearly, the 1998 investigation needs to be investigated itself. The proper authorities had a serial child sex abuser in their clutches, with significant evidence against him, and let him go, allegedly because of a procedural mistake - Lauro never seeing Chambers' report.

If the media truly cares about justice in this saga, about the whole truth, about how Sandusky could possibly have perpetrated these horrific acts over such a long period time, then how come the 1998 investigation has only been glossed over? Think about it: The DA's office, the police, department of welfare case workers and professional psychologists had Sandusky under investigation and lots of evidence against him - two boys inappropriately touched, a bizarre pseudo-confession from Sandusky and a psychologist's stinging, crystal clear report -  and they let him go!

Though the Freeh Report and the media have reached their damning-yet-unsupported conclusions about Paterno, there is so much more to this story. Now that the Paterno witch hunt has kneecapped the deceased coach, and Penn State and innocent people have been made to suffer immensely by the NCAA as ... as what? Some sort of measure of justice for the victims? And now that Sandusky has been locked up for life, has interest waned in the continued pursuit of the truth? Sadly, it would seem so, as evidenced by the widely accepted "truth" of the flawed Freeh Report.

There is much more out there. What it is, we can only hope to find out.

Will eventual revelations do anything for Joe Paterno? Who knows. Perhaps they will only reinforce, with actual real evidence, what is widely believed right now and make things even worse for him.

Regardless, the Freeh Report needs to be cited for its egregiously, recklessly wrong conclusions regarding Paterno. Why is no one doing that?

At the end of it all, it's not about Paterno. It's about seeking the full, complete truth in this entire scandal.

Parts of the Freeh Report, unfortunately, are about manufacturing the truth.

For more insight, analysis and opinions about Penn State football, check, or follow Pete Young on Twitter @AllPSUfootball.

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