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Spinning JoePa

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Paterno family's take on the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal neither discredits the Freeh report's findings about Penn State's astounding failure to stop the child rapist nor refutes Joe Paterno's role in the cover-up.

And whatever weight is added by former Gov. and U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh's association with the family-sanctioned report, it comes up quite light in its attempts to exonerate the family's beloved patriarch.

Shoddily disregarding context as it struggles to favorably spin two May 1998 emails sent by Athletic Director Tim Curley to Gary Schultz, a Penn State vice president, in the wake of talk about Sandusky showering with young boys on campus, the family report claims:

• One email is unclear about the identity of “the coach” with whom Mr. Curley had “touched base” — despite its “Joe Paterno” subject line.

• Another email — with subject line “Jerry” — that said “Coach is anxious to know where it stands” could refer to Sandusky possibly leading a proposed football team at the Altoona campus, not to Mr. Paterno being concerned about where the issue of Sandusky's child molestation stood.

In both instances, the “coach” clearly was Paterno — as the Freeh report found. Who else would anyone at Penn State have thought “the coach” meant?

What this report really shows is that in the eyes of his family, the legend of “JoePa” still trumps all else — even the suffering of Sandusky's victims.

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