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Defense attorneys will examine Paterno report

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 12:19 a.m.

Lawyers for Penn State University officials charged with a criminal cover-up of allegations against Jerry Sandusky may take a hard look at a report by experts Joe Paterno's family commissioned, one of the attorneys suggested.

At least one Penn State trustee urged the university to do likewise.

The Paterno report — a collection of reports by former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh; former FBI profiler Jim Clemente; Dr. Fred Berlin, a Johns Hopkins University expert in sexual disorders; and Paterno family lawyer Wick Sollers — was released Sunday. It concluded that an internal investigation former FBI Director Louis Freeh conducted for Penn State was wrong on several key points.

Among them:

• No evidence supported Freeh's assertion that former coach Paterno, former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz and former university president Graham Spanier conspired to conceal child sexual abuse by Sandusky, the retired football defensive coordinator who is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for sexually abusing 10 boys.

• The evidence did not support Freeh's assertions Paterno knew about a 1998 investigation involving Sandusky and wanted to conceal a 2001 report.

The Paterno family report concluded that Paterno, who died last January, did what he believed was necessary to address an allegation against Sandusky brought to him in 2001 by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary. The family's experts concluded Paterno did not know or even believe in the possibility that Sandusky was capable of sexually assaulting boys.

Freeh said he stands by his conclusions.

John Burkoff, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, called the Paterno report “a first-rate piece of lawerly advocacy.”

“I'm not saying its arguments and contentions are wrong. Some of them may be right. Some of them may be wrong,” he said, calling the report a “selective review of some of the available evidence.”

Trustee Alvin Clemens said the report “raises a number of extremely troubling questions.” He urged colleagues on the 32-member board to re-examine the conclusions of the Freeh report.

“The Freeh group was engaged by the board of trustees to perform an independent, full and complete investigation of the Sandusky scandal. In addition to questions about accuracy and fairness, there is little question that the Freeh report is less than complete,” Clemens said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Caroline Roberto, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represents Curley, said the Paterno report's description of Sandusky is “chilling reality” that helps “make sense of this tragedy.”

Curley, Spanier and Schultz face criminal charges in connection with an alleged cover-up. All maintain their innocence.

“Jim Clemente, the former FBI profiler, asks the right questions: how so many people — good people in a good community — could fail to understand the red flags regarding Jerry Sandusky,” Roberto wrote in an email response to the Tribune-Review.

“To deny that we all missed it and ignore the reasons why, as explained by Mr. Clemente, is to do a disservice to our children, to the memory of Joe Paterno and to Tim Curley, who is unjustly accused of crimes,” Roberto wrote.

Burkoff added, “Whatever happens in these prosecutions, the truth is that we will never know the truth.”

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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