Freeh Report: Did State Attorney General, Police Commish Give Paterno a Pass?

Lou RomContributor IJuly 13, 2012

If you believe the Louis Freeh report then you have to believe that the men who prosecuted Jerry Sandusky gave head coach Joe Paterno the biggest pass of his life.

Attorney General Linda Kelly and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, who led what they described as a two-year investigation into child rape allegations against former Penn State assistant coach Sandusky, refused to bring charges against the iconic Paterno.

And, given what we now know—about Paterno's efforts to conceal the abuse and about a Pennsylvania jury's willingness to convict another Penn State legend—you have to believe that Paterno's role was glossed over with the grand jury that indicted Sandusky, athletic director Tim Curley and school vice president Gary Schultz.

In November, Penn State fans and Paterno loyalists opined that if Joe Pa had been part of the cover up he would have been charged along with Curley and Schultz. And they rallied in support of Paterno, before and after his firing. At that point, there was no reason to believe that line of thinking was off base.

But today, a day after the independent investigation led by former FBI director Freeh was released, we are no longer left to wonder.

Today, we know differently.

The findings of the Freeh report represent a worst-case scenario for Penn State, for the Paterno family and his legacy. Penn State's leadership chose to protect a child molester in the name of fame, ego, greed and power.


But it also suggests that a close-knit circle of Pennsylvania's most powerful leaders could not bring themselves to vigilantly pursue and prosecute the man who Freeh essentially pegs as the ringleader of this cover-up coterie.

Curley charges? Check. Schultz indictment? Check. Paterno prosecution? Blasphemy.

Today, we know differently.

According to Freeh's report, as cited by the New York Times:

The most senior officials at Penn State had shown a "total and consistent disregard" for the welfare of children, had worked together to actively conceal Mr. Sandusky’s assaults, and had done so for one central reason: fear of bad publicity.

Are we to believe that Freeh and his group, in barely eight months, uncovered "new evidence" substantiating Paterno's role in the cover-up? That Freeh found new evidence, yet uncovered by the state Attorney General and State Police Commissioner, over their own two-year investigation?

I'd like to think that's the case.

I'd also like to think that the man revered for decades for representing all that was good about college athletics, the man who preached integrity and would not tolerate fear in his student athletes, was not, in fact, the biggest coward of all.

But, today, we know differently.