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King & Spalding


After the Freeh Group, which had been retained as Special Investigative Counsel (“SIC”) by the Penn State Board of Trustees to investigate the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, released its report in July 2012, the Paterno family asked King & Spalding to conduct a comprehensive review of both the report and Joe Paterno’s conduct. They authorized us to engage preeminent experts and to obtain their independent analyses as an essential part of that review. This Critique of the Freeh report, which incorporates and attaches those independent analyses in full, sets the record straight. We conclude that the observations as to Joe Paterno in the Freeh report are unfounded, and have done a disservice not only to Joe Paterno and to the Penn State University community, but also to the victims of Jerry Sandusky and the critical mission of educating the public on the dangers of child sexual victimization.

Dick Thornburgh, former Attorney General of the United States, and experts Jim Clemente and Fred Berlin, have each carefully examined the July 12, 2012 report prepared by Louis Freeh, and have each determined that the report is deeply flawed and that key conclusions regarding Joe Paterno are unsubstantiated and unfair.

This Critique summarizes their expert conclusions and describes the most glaring errors on which the Freeh report is based. As Dick Thornburgh explains, the Freeh report reflects an improper “rush to injustice.” There is no evidence that Joe Paterno deliberately covered up known incidents of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky to protect Penn State football or for any other reason; the contrary statements in the Freeh report are unsupported and unworthy of belief. As described in more detail below, there is no reason to believe that Joe Paterno understood the threat posed by Jerry Sandusky better than qualified child welfare and law enforcement professionals. There is no evidence that Joe Paterno conspired with Penn State officials to suppress information because of publicity concerns. And Joe Paterno’s testimony before the grand jury in 2011 was truthful. As Messrs. Thornburgh and Clemente and Dr. Berlin have each concluded, the full story behind the tragic events involving Jerry Sandusky is not the one told by the Freeh report.


  • 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.

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