The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

February 12, 2013

Truth lies somewhere in the middle

The wounds, possibly healed a bit after the passage of time, are fresh once again. The Joe Paterno-Jerry Sandusky story is back after the family of Penn State's hall of fame football coach released the findings of its own inquiry into the validity of the Freeh Report.

Sunday and Monday members of the family made media rounds, announcing what they believe are significant inaccuracies in the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh last summer.

On the surface, it looks like family going to the wall to save the legacy of their patriarch. For that, no one came blame them.

They want people to know they found flaws in the Freeh Report, which held Joe Paterno accountable along with three others for Sandusky's years of sexual misconduct.

While the Paternos said their report was a response to the entire Freeh report, it was apparent the No. 1 goal was to clear the legendary coach. That's why the report stated: "We conclude that the observations as to Joe Paterno in the Freeh report are unfounded and they have done a disservice not only to Joe Paterno and the university community but also to the victims."

In case you are keeping score at home, that's two mentions of Joe Paterno before anything about victims.

That is an instance of the family trying to rebuild Joe Paterno's shattered legacy, or at the very least defending his original legacy. Either way, it will be a long process.

To this day, there are still two very distinct views on Paterno's handling of Jerry Sandusky within the blue and white walls in State College.

The first is that Joe Paterno did all that he was required to do under the rule of law. Sandusky was not a coach at the time of the 2001 incident, so Paterno passed it on to his superiors. The other view is that someone of Paterno's leadership stature could have and should have done much more.

Certainly there were some flaws in Freeh Report. While conducting more than 400 interviews, some of the major players in this saga, including Paterno, who died before it was released, were not interviewed.

In the end, the truth lies somewhere in between Freeh's report and the family's.

Joe Paterno is likely not as guilty as he is portrayed by Louis Freeh, and likely not as innocent as his loved ones must believe.

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