The Record

Summary of Findings:

King & Spalding


  • The Freeh report missed a critical opportunity to educate the public on the identification of child sexual victimization, and instead used the platform created by this scandal to sensationalize the blaming of Joe Paterno. The Freeh report ignored decades of expert research and behavioral analysis regarding the appropriate way to understand and investigate a child sexual victimization case. Mr. Jim Clemente is one of the leading former FBI profilers of child sex offenders, and himself a survivor of childhood sexual victimization. As Mr. Clemente bluntly put it:
    • “The SIC failed to properly factor the dynamics of acquaintance child sexual victimization cases into their investigation. Consequently, the SIC misinterpreted evidence and behavior and reached erroneous conclusions. Any investigation will reach the wrong result by using the wrong approach and by interpreting the facts through the wrong filter.”
    • “There is no other way to say it: on the most critical aspects of the Sandusky investigation, the SIC report is a failure. It does a tremendous disservice to Penn State, Joe Paterno, and the victims of Jerry Sandusky.”
  • Expert analysis shows that Jerry Sandusky was a “skilled and masterful manipulator,” who deceived an entire community to obscure the signs of child abuse, using a variety of proven techniques. Those techniques included: perpetuating an image as a playful “nice guy” who was a foster and adoptive parent with kids around him at all hours in all types of capacities, leveraging his position as a respected member of the community, and creating a children’s charity to legitimize his credibility in interacting with kids.
  • Expert analysis shows that Jerry Sandusky fooled qualified child welfare professionals and law enforcement, as well as laymen inexperienced and untrained in child sexual victimization like Joe Paterno. Sandusky’s techniques as a pillar of the community created a proven psychological and cognitive impediment for them to recognize the red flags and other signs that Sandusky was a child molester. Joe Paterno himself knew very little about Jerry Sandusky’s personal life and did not know private details about Sandusky or his victims. For decades, Joe Paterno respected Sandusky’s talent as a coach and professional colleague and recognized Sandusky’s widely-stated passion for helping kids, but the Freeh report missed that they disliked each other personally, had very little in common outside work, and did not interact much if at all socially.
  • Expert analysis shows that while signs of Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation existed with the benefit of hindsight, at the time of the 2001 shower incident reported by graduate assistant Mike McQueary, information was conveyed to Joe Paterno in terms that were too general and vague for him to disregard decades of contrary experience with Sandusky and to conclude that Sandusky was a child predator. As summarized in former FBI profiler Jim Clemente’s own words:
    • “Given my 30 years of education, training and experience working, evaluating and assessing child sex crimes investigations around the world, it is my expert opinion that Paterno did not know, or even believe in the possibility, that Sandusky was capable of sexually assaulting boys. At worst, he believed that Sandusky was a touchy-feely guy who had boundary issues. This fact is clear from his repeated statements before he died.”
    • “[Paterno] did what he believed was reasonable and necessary to address the situation based on his understanding of the facts, and his position at the time. Paterno did what most people who cared about children would have done in the same situation. More than a decade later, and in hindsight, Paterno showed his concern for the victims when he stated he, ‘wished [he] had done more.’”
    • “Paterno, like everyone else who knew Sandusky, simply fell victim to effective ‘grooming.’ [Grooming is a dynamic process of seemingly innocent, positive public behaviors by the offender, aimed at gaining the trust of the targeted child, parents and the community.] As an expert behavioral analyst and based on my review of the evidence, Paterno did not believe that the information he received from McQueary amounted to Sandusky being a predatory child sex offender.”
  • The Freeh report is uniformly biased against Joe Paterno. For the authors of the report, there are no gray areas. They ascribe motives to people they never met or interviewed, and interpret ambiguous documents with a clarity and decisiveness that is impossible to justify.
  • None of the experts found any support for the Freeh report’s assertion that Joe Paterno, along with three other Penn State administrators, including the President, conspired to conceal Jerry Sandusky’s actions because they wanted to avoid bad publicity. That core “conclusion” by Mr. Freeh was entirely unfounded and has resulted in a great disservice to everyone involved in this tragedy.
  • Mr. Freeh irresponsibly blamed Joe Paterno in this scandal, and violated the most basic notions of due process by offering a flawed, one-sided viewpoint without affording any meaningful opportunity for Joe Paterno, his representatives, or any neutral third party to assess or even respond to Mr. Freeh’s opinions before he announced them as proven at a national press conference. Mr. Freeh generated a rapid domino effect of negative coverage that immediately and unfairly tainted perceptions of Joe Paterno by the media, the Penn State community, the NCAA, and the public.
  • The timing of Mr. Freeh’s press conference and report ensured that the rush to judgment occurred without any meaningful review of the Freeh report itself. The Freeh report, which was 267 pages and included 702 endnotes and 105 pages of appendices, was released only an hour before his press conference. The virtually instantaneous and uniformly negative reporting after his press conference perpetuated his many unproven assertions and opinion-based conclusions, without any evaluation or analysis by the news outlets that adopted Mr. Freeh’s wide-ranging and unchallenged proclamations.

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