Paterno legacy 'marred' by Penn State scandal -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Paterno legacy 'marred' by Penn State scandal

Joe Paterno was college football's most winningest coach when he was fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. (Source: Penn State) Joe Paterno was college football's most winningest coach when he was fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. (Source: Penn State)
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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA (RNN) - A report from former FBI director Louis Freeh found legendary Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno was partially responsible for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was found guilty on 45 criminal charges related to sexually abusing boys as young as 10 years old, many in Penn State facilities.

Paterno, a much beloved figure on campus and college football's most winningest coach, lost his battle with lung cancer Jan. 22 when he was 85 years old.

He testified before a grand jury on Jan. 12 about his knowledge of the Sandusky case, but passed long before the former assistant coach was found guilty on June 22.

Karen Peetz, chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees, said the findings "marred" Paterno's legacy, a finding which his family contested.

"Joe Paterno wasn't perfect," the Paterno family said in a statement released after the Freeh Report became public. "He made mistakes and he regretted them.

"He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more."

The family vehemently denied the report's claim that his lack of follow up with authorities pointed to his participation in the cover up of Sandusky's crimes.

On Feb. 9, 2001, former assistant football coach Mike McQueary walked in on Sandusky and a boy McQueary estimated to be around 10 or 12 years old in a locker room shower.

McQueary testified before a grand jury that he heard "rhythmic slapping sounds" coming from the shower, and Sandusky and the boy appeared to be in "a very sexual position."

McQueary said he told Paterno about the incident on Feb. 10, 2001. Paterno took the allegations up the chain to Athletic Director Tim Curley, but it is unclear how much more involvement Paterno had in the case, save for an email sent by Curley later that month.

Writing to former Penn State President Graham Spanier and former Vice President Gary Schultz, Curley said rather than take the report to the Department of Public Welfare, he had talked to Paterno and "we feel there is a problem" with taking the allegations that far.

Instead, Curley indicated he and Paterno felt it would be better to offer Sandusky "professional help."

Ironically, Spanier responded in an email that "the only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it."

The report, however, noted that Paterno did indeed express remorse in hindsight, and seemed willing to continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials until his death.

The Penn State community still seems torn over how to process the information.

"We need reflection and distance before we talk about how we're going to view Paterno's entire life," said Ken Frazier, the chairman of a special board committee tasked with investigating the Sandusky crimes.

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