- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A potentially explosive report into whether football coach Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials took steps to conceal that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was a child molester will be released Thursday — online for all to see, officials said Tuesday.

Attorneys for the university’s deposed president, meanwhile, broke a monthslong silence and denied suggestions that Graham Spanier participated in a cover-up with the image of Penn State and its powerful and lucrative football program at stake.

The internal report by former FBI chief Louis Freeh is expected to reveal how the university treated Sandusky, Paterno’s one-time heir apparent, after top administrators fielded complaints about his encounters with young boys more than a decade ago. It is also expected to cast light on how the Hall of Fame coach, who died in January, exerted control over the football program while Sandusky worked under him and after Sandusky retired from coaching.

The report could also influence how Paterno is remembered while affecting an ongoing NCAA probe into the school’s conduct and the criminal cases against two Penn State administrators.

Freeh’s spokesman said the report will be published online at 9 a.m. Thursday. Investigators will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia to discuss the findings and recommendations in the report. The university trustees, who are meeting in Scranton on Thursday, said they will respond shortly thereafter.

“I think we’ll find that this thing revolves so tightly around Coach Paterno, and I would hope the Freeh report is much broader than that and addresses the university as a whole — and how this culture was handled or mishandled correctly — and comes to some closure on that,” trustee Ryan McCombie said.

“The people who loved Joe Paterno will still love him when this is over,” McCombie said. “The people who disliked him may feel they have ammunition to continue to dislike him.”

Tuesday’s announcement that Freeh and his team of investigators have completed their work came a few hours after lawyers for Spanier denied that he was ever told of any criminality by Sandusky. The lawyers were rebutting reports that indicate Spanier, who was interviewed by Freeh investigators on Friday, might have tried to cover up the abuse.

“At no time in the more than 16 years of his presidency at Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct or criminality of any kind, and he reiterated that during his interview with Louis Freeh and his colleagues,” said a statement from the lawyers, Peter Vaira and Elizabeth Ainslie.

Both Spanier, 63, and Paterno — who died of lung cancer at age 85 on Jan. 22 — were ousted by school trustees a few days after Sandusky’s arrest in November. Prosecutors described how Sandusky, 68, culled the most vulnerable children from his charity for at-risk youth and used gifts and his access to Penn State facilities to abuse them over a 15-year span. Sandusky was convicted last month on 45 counts of abuse involving 10 boys and will likely die in prison.

Freeh was hired by the university to find out what school officials, including Spanier and Paterno, knew about the child molester in their midst, and the former FBI director and federal judge promised a wide-ranging investigation.

Freeh said in November that he would not interfere with the state’s criminal probe but promised to conduct his review in “a thorough, fair, comprehensive manner, leaving no stone unturned, and without any fear or favor.”

Freeh and his team of lawyers and former law enforcement officials interviewed more than 400 people, asking questions that went beyond Sandusky and the child sex-abuse scandal and into the relationship between football program and the university administration.

Lawyers for the young men who testified against Sandusky — and others who might file civil lawsuits related to the scandal — will be reading the report closely for what it might mean for any future litigation. A civil complaint and a second legal notice of a lawsuit have been filed in Philadelphia, while others have indicated they also may sue.

“I’m going to be looking for what we believe will be full and complete disclosure,” said Harrisburg lawyer Ben Andreozzi, who represents the young man described as Victim 4 in court records.

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