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‘Truthers’ seek to exonerate late Penn State coach Joe Paterno, restore his reputation
• The NCAA’s decision to fine Penn State $60 million, void 14 seasons of football victories and impose scholarship reductions and a four-year postseason bowl ban, sanctions based on the findings of the Freeh report.
“I think the biggest fear people have in opening this up is being perceived as defending the indefensible,” said Mike Meyer, 35, a Penn State graduate who drove from his home in Raleigh, N.C., to attend the event. “There’s a sense that Penn State just doesn’t get it, that we’re all Joe Pa apologists. But after seeing all of this, I think there are big questions.”
(During a Penn State board of trustees meeting last September, board chairwoman Karen B. Peetz responded to public criticism of the board’s decision to accept Mr. Freeh’s findings by stating there were no plans for a detailed review of the report. Penn State spokesman David La Torre told The Washington Times the school did not have a comment on the questions raised by Mr. Franco and others.)
Of 19 key witnesses in the Sandusky case, she said, only three were interviewed for the report. The report also cited three emails viewed as pointing to a cover-up by Paterno and Penn State officials of Sandusky’s sex abuse — but Ms. Morgan argued that the emails were too “vague” to be definitive.
Eliciting laughter from the audience, Ms. Morgan said that if Mr. Freeh’s investigators actually reviewed “3.5 million pieces of evidence” as they claimed, they would have had to examine “2,000 pieces of evidence per hour.”
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” said Mr. Tribeck. “But I do corporate law for a living, [the Freeh report] reads like something a first-year law student would have written.”
Mr. Tribeck noted that Mr. Freeh was in charge of the FBI investigation into a pipe bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games that led to a local security guard, Richard Jewell, being subjected to intense negative media coverage after being named a person of interest.
Jewell was later cleared of all involvement with the bombing, and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno publicly apologized for the FBI’s leak of his name.
Mr. Tribeck and other panelists also argued that the original grand jury presentment in the Sandusky case contained factual errors and inconsistencies and was given too much credence by the media and Penn State’s board of trustees alike, particularly with regards to Paterno’s firing and alleged culpability.
According to a three-page, tri-fold chart distributed at the event — the one with the photos and floor plans — Mr. McQueary told a grand jury in 2010 that he did not leave out any details of what he believed was Sandusky raping a young boy in the Penn State locker room showers in 2001 when he subsequently discussed the incident with Paterno. During Sandusky’s 2012 trial, however, the chart notes that Mr. McQueary testified that he never told Paterno “the graphic sexual nature of what I saw.”
Mr. Lubrano said the grand jury presentment “borders on prosecutorial misconduct.”
“The presentment states that Mike McQueary reported anal rape,” he said. “We know that this is just not true. I have to believe the prosecution knew that was untrue. That creates question about intent.”
In addition to distributing copies of the chart, event organizers also handed out cards for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a group that claims 15,000 alumni as members and seeks to remove every university board member who participated in Mr. Paterno’s ouster.
A vocal and public supporter of his former coach since the Sandusky scandal first broke, Mr. Harris has over the last six months assailed the school’s trustees during a public meeting that saw him have his microphone cut off; confronted NCAA President Mark A Emmert following a speech in Los Angeles; and appeared in his luxury box at a Penn State home football game next to a cardboard cutout of Paterno and a sign reading “Due Process for J.V.P.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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