Whatever happened to due process?

This morning the NCAA severely sanctioned the Penn State University football program
essentially destroying it and the players who committed to playing for it. And yesterday, the
statue of revered football coach Joe Paterno was taken down from the entrance to Beaver
Stadium. Why did these things happen? Because Joe Paterno was convicted of a crime in a
court of law? NO, because one man decided that Joe Paterno was guilty. A man who
conducted another sports-related investigation that was determined to be insufficient to prove
the culpability that it placed on someone whose reputation is now, irreparably tarnished.

Freeh, former director of the FBI under Bill Clinton, conducted an “investigation” for the
Board of Trustees of Penn State University in an effort to determine who knew what and when –
regarding the criminal activity of Jerry Sandusky. In a 162 page report, Mr. Freeh draws
conclusions from insufficient facts to reach his conclusion that Joe Paterno failed to act to
protect innocent children from Jerry Sandusky. And, more disturbing, the University and the
NCAA took Freeh’s assertions to be gospel and crucified Paterno and the football program
without obtaining facts or testimony from any of the accused.

What the media and the University officials apparently failed to do is actually READ the
report to determine how Mr. Freeh reached this conclusion. Because my husband played for
Joe Paterno and knew Coach and his family well, I did, in fact, read this report and analyze it. I
determined that Mr. Freeh did not have sufficient evidence to reach his conclusion about Joe
Paterno.

But what is so shocking and frightening to me is how one man’s conclusion – devoid of
fact and due process – has resulted in such drastic actions by the public, the media, the
University and the NCAA. Blind sheep from the University and the NCAA took radical steps to
decimate Joe Paterno’s reputation and contributions to 60 years of Penn State football without
questioning the report, its contents or those who have first hand knowledge as to what occurred
and what people knew.

None of the critical witnesses in the case were interviewed for Freeh’s report. Yet the
public has torn apart the Penn State football team and stripped Joe Paterno of his legitimately
earned accolades.

I’m sure that Qatari Mohammed Bin Hammam would agree with me. Never heard of
him? Neither had I until the Penn State Freeh report reared its ugly head.

Bin Hammam wanted to run for the position of President of FIFA which is an international
soccer association. But because of an “investigation” by the same Louis Freeh, he was
prevented from doing so and banned for life from the organization. Apparently Mr. Freeh
concluded that Bin Hammamsolicited bribes – a pretty hefty charge. Just days ago, however, a
Swiss court overturned FIFA’s ban of Bin Hammam citing the lack of evidence in Mr. Freeh’s
report to reach the conclusions that he drew. I believe that time will show Mr. Freeh’s report to
be similarly devoid of evidence but the damage his report is causing is unconscionable and
irreparable.

The NCAA similarly reached its conclusions and issued its sanctions against Penn State
without conducting its own investigation but rather by relying on Mr. Freeh’s report!! If our
country is headed for conviction of people without evidence and due process, heaven help us
all. But this is exactly what has happened.

Joe Paterno, as he tries to rest in peace, has no voice in this mess – yet we have
allowed one man to undermine his lifetime of contributions to the Penn State football program
and thousands of students whose lives he touched.

I don’t know what Joe Paterno knew or didn’t know – but I do know this: Mr. Freeh’s
report in no way, shape or form supports the conclusions that he made about Coach Paterno
and we should not allow a man to be condemned without his “day in court.” I stand by Coach
Paterno and offer my support to his family because in the America that I know, men are
presumed innocent until proven guilty and there is no proof in this report.

7 thoughts on “Whatever happened to due process?

  1. The ayatollah of the NCAA issued his fatwa. This is violent extremism and terrorism just as callous and vindictive as the Taliban. There must be some way that we can fight back. I will donate what I can to that effort .

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  2. Well written!- We as a group need to move as quickly as possible. I hope that a fund is set up in the coming days where we can send contributions to help with the legal costs. We should move to have the NCAA ruling stayed in court based on lack of jurisdiction, lack of investigation by the NCAA, Lack of due process and reliance on a faulty Freeh report which has been amended several times since it was issued. Also the punishment is not directed at the perpatrators it falls on innocent people.

    Please, PLEASE open the fund and start working on the stay.

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  3. Why doesn’T Cynthia baldwin make a statement disclosing all of her advice and to whom reguading all sandusky issues.

    My guess is spanner and associates did what legal council told them and there was no cover up

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  4. Have any of you seen this yet?

    “University officials declined comment about the recommendations. Spokesman David La Torre said, ” We have just this morning received Auditor General Wagner’s report. Any comment would be premature. Neither the university leadership nor the members of the board have had time to consider the recommendations” ”

    Are you KIDDING me? So, they only care about making sure thye have read a report and don’t rush to judgment when their OWN butts are on the line?!?! Sickening!!! The total hypocrisy and irony is just too much for me to take anymore!

    There has got to be SOMETHING we can do!?!?! I too will donate the second that a fund is set up to pursue legal recourse. It seems to me that ANYONE who is a Nittany Lion Club member and has donated money in the past would have standing to bring a lawsuit. Some of that money they are spending has GOT to be some of our donations over the years, and I sure as hell didn’t give it to be used like this!. If not, at least sue them to make them prove it. Or, better yet, how about a class action lawsuit of ALL NLC members? Ther has got to be SOMETHING we can do!?!?!

    I have never felt so powerless or despondant and alone in my life……

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    1. Jeff, you are definitely NOT alone. Nor are WE powerless. We are not going away and we will correct the record and replace incompetence with competence. Stay with us. Stay calm. And fight on!

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  5. I thoughI believe the media, the Freeh Report, and many others have misrepresented Joe Paterno’s culpability in the Jerry Sandusky matter. The evidence against Mr. Paterno amounts to virtually nothing. After more than 430 interviews and a review of more than 3.5 million documents and other information, the Freeh Report concludes that three emails from other people ? former Penn State President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Timothy Curley, and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz ? prove that Mr. Paterno was a co-conspirator in a cover-up. I do not read the evidence in the Freeh Report that way, and I do not believe the conclusions about Mr. Paterno are either warranted or fair.

    The claim seems to be that Mr. Paterno knew about a 1998 allegation and did nothing, and that in 2001, when he learned about Mike McQueary’s information, he waited a day before he reported the information to the athletic director (Curley) and the vice president in charge of the University Police (Schultz) and then did nothing else.

    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.

    The police investigated and “did not question Sandusky at this time,” and the Freeh Report says that “the local District Attorney declined to prosecute Sandusky for his actions.” Freeh Report at 45-46. A “senior administrator” explained that “the case against Sandusky was ‘severely hampered’ by Seasock’s report.” Freeh Report at 46. The University Police also investigatedthe matter and unlike the local police, they interviewed Sandusky. Sandusky claimed “nothing happened” (Freeh Report at 46) and the University Police concluded that “no sexual assault occurred.” Freeh Report at 47.

    The only evidence of Mr. Paterno’s involvement is a passing reference in an email from Curley to Spanier and Schultz that says that Curley “touched base with the coach. Keep us posted.” Freeh Report at 20, 48. A second email from Curley to Schultz that says “Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” Freeh Report at 20, 48. There is no other information about Mr. Paterno’s involvement in the incident. In fact, the Freeh Report does not even establish that the references to “Coach” refer to Joe Paterno. The most it can and does say is that “[t]he reference to Coach is believed to be Paterno.” Freeh Report at 49. The Freeh Report cites no evidence to support this assertion, but even if “Coach” refers to Coach Paterno, what do these emails prove? The answer is: nothing. At most, these emails suggest that Mr. Paterno was concerned and wanted to know whether Sandusky was guilty of any wrongdoing.

    Of course, if Mr. Paterno did express concern about the matter, then the question becomes: what did anyone tell him about the allegations and the investigation?

    The Freeh Report provides no answer to this question. 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?

    The Freeh Report concludes that the “record” is “not clear as to how the conclusion of the Sandusky investigation was conveyed to Paterno.” Freeh Report at 51. The Report includes many statements that assert things like “nothing in the record indicates that Joe Paterno spoke with Sandusky.” See, e.g., Freeh Report at 51. The absence of evidence or information proves only that Mr. Freeh did not find evidence. It does not affirmatively prove anything about Mr. Paterno.

    Furthermore, despite the lack of evidence about Mr. Paterno’s culpability with respect to the 1998 incident, the Freeh Report accuses Mr. Paterno of “allow[ing] Sandusky to retire in 1999, not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy.” Freeh Report at 17. The Freeh Report’s expression of outrage may sound compelling now, with the benefit of hindsight and the evidence that now exists about Sandusky’s criminal misconduct. But given that (1) law enforcement officials and other people investigated the 1998 incident and found no wrongdoing; (2) Seasock’s report exonerated Sandusky; (3) the District Attorney declined to prosecute the case; (4) Sandusky denied the allegations; and (5) the complete lack of evidence about Mr. Paterno’s knowledge, involvement, and actions, it is difficult to see how Mr. Paterno can be subject to ridicule because he “allowed” Sandusky to retire “not as a suspected child predator.”

    As to the issue about whether Joe Paterno should have done more with the McQueary information, I keep coming back to one critical missing piece of evidence: what did Curley and Schultz tell him? Schultz, in particular, is the important actor here because he was the top university official in charge of the University Police. Freeh Report at 33. If JoePa wanted to cover this up, he would never have reported McQueary’s information to Curley and Schultz within a day of receiving it. Is waiting one day on a weekend evidence of a cover-up? Mr. Freeh and others seem to think so. The Freeh Report repeatedly cites Mr. Paterno’s comments about not interfering with the weekend as evidence of some kind of evil intent. But, again, this proves nothing. Would the Report conclude differently if Mr.Paterno had spoken with Curley and Schultz on Saturday evening instead of Sunday?

    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.

    Much of the case against Mr. Paterno seems to rely on (1) the theory that the Athletic Director, Curley, was JoePa’s “errand boy”; and (2) an email dated February 27, 2001 from Curley to Schultz and Spanier which says that Curley gave the matter “more thought” after “talking it over with Joe” and was “uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.” Freeh Report at 74-75. But the “errand boy” evidence amounts to a reference by an unidentified “senior Penn State official” (page 75), and what does it prove anyway? That one person viewed Curley as Paterno’s “errand boy”?

    There is no evidence that Curley-as-errand-boy covered up because Joe Paterno told him to do so. And the February 27 email at most suggests that Mr. Paterno spoke with Curley. It does not say what Curley and Paterno discussed, and without any explanation from either Curley or Paterno, it is absurd to read into this that Mr. Paterno was the puppet master behind a coverup orchestrated by Curley, Spanier, and Schultz.

    Mr. Paterno was a football coach, not an expert in criminal law or investigations, and this notion of him as some kind of omnipotent and omniscient God who callously turned his back on a serial child molester is unsupported by any evidence.

    This is a rather sorry record upon which to condemn Joe Paterno.

    t every one be interested in a legal opinion that was posted on Rivals- BWI site

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