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Penn State Scandal: Freeh Uncovered More About Paterno Than State Did

The reporter who last year broke the news that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had been accused of sexually abusing young boys today helps answer some very interesting questions:

Why did former FBI Director Louis Freeh conclude that legendary head football coach Joe Paterno was among top officials at the school who had a "total disregard for the safety and welfare" of Jerry Sandusky's child victims and that Paterno had known as long ago as 1998 that Sandusky might be a pedophile?

And why are Freeh's conclusions about Paterno so much more damning than the initial statements from state Attorney General Linda Kelly, who said Paterno had done what he should concerning Sandusky?

According to Sara Ganim of Harrisburg's The Patriot News:

-- "Freeh's team found emails that the AG's investigators couldn't get. Freeh called those emails the 'most important pieces of evidence in the case.' "

-- Those emails helped Freeh conclude that "Joe Paterno did know about a 1998 police investigation into Sandusky's behavior and followed it closely, even though he testified he hadn't heard of allegations other than in 2001."

-- And, the emails helped Freeh conclude that Paterno and three other top Penn State officials "actively concealed similar allegations three years later in 2001" when a graduate assistant told Paterno he had seen Sandusky assaulting a young boy in a Penn State shower.

Also, as Ganim notes, "those emails and other correspondence, according to Freeh, helped the attorney general's office correct the date of the infamous Mike McQueary incident [the shower assault reported by McQueary] from 2002 to 2001."

All in all, she writes, it's clear that "the Freeh investigators had been more successful in burrowing into the traditionally closed university."

Paterno was fired last November after the scandal broke. He died in January. His family disputes Freeh's conclusions. From The Associated Press:

"In a statement, Paterno's family strongly denied he protected Sandusky for fear of bad publicity.

" 'The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept. The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn't fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events,' the family said. 'Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone.' "

Paterno, as NPR's Jeff Brady reported today on Morning Edition, is still a legend at Penn State. The Patriot-News, by the way, is asking readers today whether the statue of Paterno on the Penn State campus should "stay or go?"

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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