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Freeh remarks on football, Paterno involvement in Sandusky scandal

Written by Craig Layne, Morning Edition Host/Reporter | Jul 12, 2012 3:18 PM

(Philadelphia) -- The report on Penn State's reaction to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case reveals what investigators call a "total disregard" by university officials for the safety and welfare of Jerry Sandusky's victims.

The report by former FBI director Louis Freeh's independent group implicates former school President Graham Spanier, administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz and former football coach Joe Paterno.

Freeh spoke to reporters this morning at a Philadelphia hotel.  "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," Freeh said. 

Freeh had some praise for the late Joe Paterno, though he says he was a major player in the efforts to conceal knowledge of Sandusky's child abuse.

"(He's) a person with a teriffic legacy, a great legacy, who brought huge value not just to the university, but to the program.  He, as someone once said, (he) made perhaps the worst mistake of his life," Freeh explained.  "We're not singling him out, we're putting him in a category of four other people who we would say were the major leaders of Penn State.  He was also a major leader of Penn State.  The facts are the facts."

Joe Paterno's family has said the late coach wanted to make it known that the Sandusky case was not a "football scandal."  A reporter at today's news conference asked Louis Freeh whether he thought it was a "football scandal."  Freeh responded, saying, "the rapes of these boys occurred in the Lasch (Football) building, Mr. Paterno had his office in the Lasch building, steps away from Mr. Sandusky.  Mr. Sandusky was one of his chief defense coaches."

Freeh went on to say Paterno had planned to speak with investigators, but became ill and passed away before they had the opportunity.

He said Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno's desire to avoid bad publicity for the university likely guided their decision-making process when they learned of suspected child sex abuse by Sandusky.

"I think bad publicity affects a panorama of different events, including the brand of Penn State, the university, the reputation of coaches, the ability to do fundraising.  It's got huge implications," he said. 

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