Franco Harris continues to pursue his pro-Paterno crusade
Former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris said on Saturday that he may hit the road with town hall meetings to scrutinize former FBI Director Louis Freeh's investigation into how Penn State handled the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal and how the case affected the legacy of former Nittany Lions head football coach Joe Paterno.
About 140 people crowded into the Harris Theater, Downtown, on Saturday to listen to an analysis of the report prepared by Freeh's law firm and the grand jury presentment that led to sexual assault charges against retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
“I don't think it's ever too late to seek the truth and to inform people of the truth or to let them see a totally different viewpoint than what was presented a year ago,” Harris said.
Harris has been highly critical of the Freeh report. The NCAA, after viewing the Freeh report, levied harsh sanctions against Penn State, including voiding 111 of Paterno's wins from 1998 through 2011.
A representative for the Freeh group declined to comment on Harris' town hall meeting.
In June, a Centre County jury convicted Sandusky for sexually abusing boys for 15 years, and he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in state prison.
Harris said he wanted to gauge the reaction of Saturday's meeting before deciding whether he would host more, but he said was pleased with the turnout and the discussion.
“It feels good,” Harris said on Saturday. “We'll see.”
Several people at the town hall meeting said they were grateful to Harris for standing firm in his defense of Paterno and criticism of the report and vowed to back him.
“I saw Franco out there by himself, and I thought he needed support,” said Anthony Lubrano, who began serving on the university board of trustees in July. “I think what Franco has done is heroic.”
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.