Contact: Mara Vandlik
“A Rush to Injustice”
The Failure of the Freeh report
Former Attorney General Thornburgh and Top FBI Profiler challenge findings
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and a team of other
high-level experts have found that the Freeh report commissioned by the Penn State
University Board of Trustees in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal is factually
wrong, speculative and “fundamentally flawed.”
In a comprehensive analysis released today [Feb. 10, 2013], Thornburgh and former
top FBI profiler Jim Clemente, prominent Washington Attorney Wick Sollers and the
director of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit, Dr. Fred Berlin,
conclude that the Freeh report was a failure that does not meet the basic requirements
of a thorough, objective and fair investigation.
Based on a review of all available evidence, including discussions with attorneys
representing Curley, Schultz and Spanier, the experts conclude that the late Penn
State Coach Joe Paterno did not attempt to hide any information or hinder or impede
any investigation related to the crimes or conduct of former assistant coach Jerry
In what Thornburgh condemns as a “rush to injustice” regarding the Freeh report’s
treatment of Joe Paterno, the former Attorney General said that “by supplying judgments
without fact, (the Freeh report) undermines our faith in justice and due process.”
The six-month analysis, composed of four separate independent reviews, is the most
comprehensive and detailed examination of the Freeh report conducted to date. Among
other findings, the experts determined that the conclusions of the Freeh report
are based on raw speculation and unsupported opinion – not facts and evidence.
The Freeh report failed its client, the Penn State University Board of Trustees,
and, more significantly, it failed Sandusky’s victims by not finding the truth.
The Freeh report ignored decades of expert research and analysis of the appropriate
way to understand and investigate a child sexual victimization case, according to
former top FBI profiler Clemente. The Freeh investigation was doomed from the beginning
because it started with the wrong assumptions, Clemente concludes.
“The Freeh report is a profound failure,” Sollers said. “It isn't a little wrong
on the minor issues. It is totally wrong on the most critical issues. That the Board
and the NCAA relied on this report, without appropriate review or analysis, is a
miscarriage of justice.”
Other major findings include:
- The allegation is false that Joe Paterno participated in a conspiracy to cover up
Sandusky's actions because of a fear of bad publicity or for any other reason.
- There is no evidence to support the allegation that the football culture at Penn
State was somehow to blame for Sandusky's crimes. Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh
says that including such a claim, with no factual basis to support it, undermines
the credibility of the entire report.
- Freeh's failure to conduct interviews with most of the key witnesses is a glaring
deficiency. In the 1998 incident, for example, Freeh's investigators failed to interview
at least 14 of the most important witnesses, including Curley, Schultz, the District
Attorney's office, the Department of Public Welfare and the University's police
department or its outside legal counsel. This pattern was repeated in the 2001 review.
Having never talked with these individuals, the Freeh report still claimed to know
what they did and why they did it.
- Freeh investigators did not have subpoena power, and no one testified under oath.
Worse, witnesses were allowed to speak anonymously, something that would never happen
in a legitimate legal proceeding.
- The conspiracy claim made by the Freeh report based on a string of three emails
falls apart under scrutiny. Because of a technology switch in 2004, most of the
Penn State emails for the time in question are not accessible. Moreover, there are
no emails authored by Joe Paterno and none that he received. In fact, the emails
referenced by the Freeh report show that Joe Paterno knew few details about Sandusky,
that he acted in good faith and that he did what he thought was right based on what
he knew at the time.
- The validity and thoroughness of the Freeh report was oversold to the public, leading
to the report being accepted in full and without review by The Board of Trustees
and the NCAA.
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