Paul Mirengoff at Powerline takes up the challenge of defending Joe Paterno. Yike!
Having glanced through it, I would infer that an unspoken assumption of the Freeh report is that of course Joe Paterno knew what was happening in his football empire. Set against that, the 1998 abuse allegation seems to have been investigated and Sandusky exonerated. Here is Mr. Mirengoff quoting a contributor:
First, with respect to the 1998 incident, the Freeh Report says that several authorities promptly investigated and reviewed the matter, including the Department of Public Welfare, the University Police Department, the State College police, and the local district attorney’s office. Freeh Report at 42-47. A “counselor” named John Seasock issued a report that found “no indication of child abuse.” Freeh Report at 42-46. Mr. Seasock interviewed the alleged victim and determined that “there seems to be no incident which could be termed as sexual abuse, nor did there appear to be any sequential pattern of logic and behavior which is usually consistent with adults who have difficulty with sexual abuse of children.” Freeh Report at 44 (quoting Mr. Seasock’s 1998 evaluation of the alleged victim). The Freeh Report adds that Mr. Seasock “couldn’t find any indication of child abuse.” Freeh Report at 45.
Obviously, that exoneration does not look good in hindsight, but no evidence of a cover-up as of 1998 is presented. As to what Parterno knew and when he knew it:
The Report does not provide any evidence about what Joe Paterno knew about the 1998 allegations against Sandusky. The Report does not provide any evidence about what Mr. Paterno did or said, or what anyone said to Mr. Paterno. Indeed, the Freeh Report suggests that both law enforcement and the University police agreed that nothing improper happened and that the allegations lacked merit. Did anyone tell Joe Paterno about those findings?
Invoking the "Of course he knew" principle allows an easy answer to those questions, but one might have expected more in the way of documentation from the Freeh team.
As to the 2001 incident:
Furthermore, if Mr. Paterno had reported the McQueary information to me (were I, like Schultz, the official in charge of the University Police), I would have told him to keep his mouth shut going forward and let the authorities handle the matter. Otherwise, Mr. Paterno could have tainted the investigation. And, because he was a potential trial witness (to McQueary’s prior consistent statements, see Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B) and Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence613(c)), any further statements or action by Mr. Paterno could have become cross-examination fodder for the defense. Any further action by Mr.Paterno could only have damaged the integrity of the investigation and any prosecution against Sandusky.
Indeed, Mr. Paterno explained his actions before died by saying that “I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the University procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did.” Freeh Report at 77-78. This statement makes perfect sense, and the notion of a football coach supervising a criminal investigation is ridiculous. It is very possible that Curley or Schultz or both told Mr. Paterno to stay out of the matter; in fact, Schultz should have told him as much. But we don’t know because Schultz and Curley are under indictment and not talking, Paterno is dead, and the Freeh Report did not find any information about this issue.
This is a pretty legalistic case. A Joe Paterno with a more assertive attitude and a greater interest in the well-being of the children involved - i.e., the Joe Paterno we thought we knew - would not have let a mere University President tell him to back off and pipe down. The Joe Paterno we thought we knew would have made sure butts were kicked and names were taken, lawyers be damned.
Well - something to think about (or scream about).