The Record

Summary of Findings:

King & Spalding



  • Joe Paterno’s last written words before his death focused on the victims of Jerry Sandusky. In a handwritten note, Joe Paterno emphasized: “Good side of scandal - it has brought about more enlightenment of a situation (sexual abuse of young people) in the country.”
  • The Paterno family directed King & Spalding to seek independent opinions of the Freeh report by experts in identifying and investigating child victimization and pedophilia, as well as by experts in conducting independent and reliable internal investigations. Those independent experts include the former top legal officer of the United States, Attorney General Dick Thornburgh; former FBI profiler and child molestation and behavioral expert, Jim Clemente; and The Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine physician and psychologist, Fred Berlin.
  • King & Spalding’s Critique of the Freeh report, which incorporates the independent analyses of these three prominent experts, concludes that the Freeh report is deeply flawed and that its conclusions as to Joe Paterno are unfair and unsupported.
  • Each one of the Freeh report’s main observations about Joe Paterno is wrong: each is either contradicted or unsubstantiated by the evidence. The authors of the Freeh report chose not to present alternative, more plausible, conclusions regarding Joe Paterno’s role in the events involving Jerry Sandusky.
  • This Critique concludes, based on our interviews, including of Coach Paterno before his death, based on our review of documents and testimony, and, importantly, based on information from our access to the lawyers for other Penn State administrators, that (1) Joe Paterno never asked or told anyone not to investigate fully the allegations in 2001, (2) Joe Paterno never asked or told anyone, including Dr. Spanier and Messrs. Curley and Schultz, not to report the 2001 incident, and (3) Joe Paterno never asked or told anyone not to discuss or to hide in any way the information reported by Mr. McQueary. Joe Paterno reported the information to his superior(s) pursuant to his understanding of University protocol and relied upon them to investigate and report as appropriate.
  • Former Attorney General Thornburgh is an expert in conducting effective fact investigations. He has reviewed the Freeh report and concluded that its investigative methodology is flawed, that its factual findings are limited and incomplete, and that its observations as to Joe Paterno are unreliable and unfounded. In the former Attorney General’s own words, he concluded:
    • “The lack of factual support for the SIC’s inaccurate and unfounded findings related to Mr. Paterno and its numerous process-oriented deficiencies was a rush to injustice and calls into question the credibility of the entire Report.”
    • “In my opinion, the Freeh Report is seriously flawed, both with respect to the process of the SIC’s investigation and its findings related to Mr. Paterno.”
    • “When considered in the context of investigation ‘best practices,’ it is evident that the Freeh Report and many of its findings as they relate to Mr. Paterno are not accurate, thorough, fair or credible. . . . The process of the SIC’s investigation was deficient in numerous ways, including the failure to interview virtually all of the key witnesses and the reliance upon limited, ambiguous documents.”
    • “Perhaps most significantly, the findings in the Freeh Report about Mr. Paterno concerning his alleged knowledge of the 1998 incident and purported concealment of the 2001 incident were not properly supported.”
    • “This lack of evidence supporting the Report’s most scathing findings and the serious flaws with respect to the process of the SIC’s investigation cause me to conclude that the Report’s findings concerning Mr. Paterno are unjust and wrong.”
  • The Freeh report was oversold to the public. Penn State officials, the NCAA, and other bodies detrimentally relied on the Freeh report in a rush to judgment about Joe Paterno. The limitations of the investigation, which were numerous and fatal to fundamental fairness, were not adequately explained or understood before that rush to injustice solidified the false public narrative about Joe Paterno.

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