It is unfortunate and sad--tragic, really--that the general public is quick to believe the worst about a person, particularly when the person in question lived a life characterized by integrity. Joe Paterno's distinguished coaching career at Penn State not only produced great football teams but--much more importantly--it produced great citizens. Paterno's name has been dragged through the mud by opportunists who are eager to find a scapegoat for the gross mishandling of the Jerry Sandusky case and Paterno is the perfect scapegoat because he is deceased and thus unable to defend his good name by speaking for himself. In Joe Paterno's Legacy I concluded:
Hopefully, with the passage of time cooler heads will prevail and Paterno will be remembered first and foremost for the "Grand Experiment"
(the Big Ten Conference could make one move in that direction by reversing the hasty decision to remove Paterno's name from the
Conference's football championship trophy). Joe Paterno was a shining light in the increasingly murky cesspool of college sports.
After the release of the Freeh Report, few members of the media were willing to publicly speak up for Paterno but I expressed doubt about Freeh's harsh attack on Paterno's character:
In retrospect it is clear that Paterno should have taken a more active role in addressing the Sandusky allegations--Paterno himself expressed regret that he had not done more--but I still find it hard to believe that Paterno knowingly and deliberately covered up child abuse merely to avoid bad publicity for his football program.
A new report commissioned by the Paterno family but independently investigated by former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, former FBI supervisory special
agent/former state prosecutor James Clemente and Dr. Fred Berlin--an expert in sexual
disorders and pedophilia at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of
Medicine--raises serious questions about Freeh's methodology and conclusions.
Thornburgh explains the defects he and his fellow researchers found in Freeh's work: "The lack of factual support for the [Freeh report's] inaccurate and
unfounded findings related to Mr. Paterno and its numerous
process-oriented deficiencies call into question the credibility of the
entire report. In my opinion, the Freeh report is
seriously flawed, both with respect to the process of [its]
investigation and its findings related to Mr. Paterno...There was just
a rush to injustice."
You can read the entire Thornburgh/Clemente/Berlin report here.
You can read a brief summary of the report here.