In writing a biography about his father, Jay Paterno makes the point quickly that the book is not an attempt to canonize Joe Paterno: "I know all too well that he was human, an imperfect being." He also says that the book is for journalism students. "In a world where the pressure to be first often outweighs the responsibility to be right, I hope you always look in your heart and pursue the truth. It is the most solemn responsibility of freedom of the press. Realize your mistakes will have consequences for real people." Here is an excerpt of Paterno Legacy.
Many of you landed on this page because you are a Penn Stater, a college football fan, or a sports fan wanting to know more about Joe Paterno's life.
I also know some are here because you're interested in the Jerry Sandusky scandal and its accompanying fallout. You want to know what Joe Paterno knew and when he knew it. That is the elephant in the room. I get that.
My father's life was big, complex, and principled, and he himself would tell you he was not perfect. But what the Freeh Report asserted is far from the truth.
Child sexual abuse is the witch trial topic of our time. I fully grasp the powerful emotions wrought by this issue. Calm discussion is difficult. It is outside our comfort zone, creating a lack of awareness that provides cover for perpetrators to operate in plain sight.
However, we must remember what Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Fred Berlin stated in his report: "In our legitimate effort to protect innocent children, the fair treatment of adults should not become a collateral casualty."
After the Freeh Report, I understand why people are angry at the university and my father. But as FBI director, Freeh took Richard Jewell from hero to suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing. After the facts were uncovered, Jewell was indeed the good guy, but the damage was done.
Our world demands immediate reaction and analysis. Initial reporting is often inaccurate and lacks perspective. For my father and Penn State, almost three years later the truth is getting clearer. An in-depth investigation by former U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh, former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, and Dr. Berlin presented a record supported by facts and evidence.
Both Thornburgh and Clemente worked with Louis Freeh. Yet both studied the report he issued and found it deeply flawed. Both addressed Joe Paterno's role related to crimes committed by another.
My father did not commit a crime or even witness a crime.
This book is not an attempt to include my father as a victim in the horrible Sandusky story. When my father was fired, he reiterated to me that being fired paled in comparison to what had happened to others.
In an email to their subscribers in November of 2011, The New York Times recapped how they had covered the story.
It concluded the email by saying this: "More than boys had been violated it seemed. A proud university's sense of superiority and privilege and arrogance had been blown up, too."
Using the specter of boys being violated was inappropriate. But in the headline and body of editor Joe Sexton's story, the name Penn State appeared six times, Paterno four times, and the man charged at the time, Jerry Sandusky, zero times.
Joe Paterno has been pronounced by the media as "the most powerful man in the state," the foundation of an argument alleging he could and should have done more. His own words: "In hindsight I wish I had done more" have been used against him over and over again as a sign of guilt.
It never was an admission of guilt. It was a painful statement that if he had only known more, then he could have done more. Clemente's powerful report makes the point that Joe Paterno was but one of many, some infinitely more highly educated on this issue, who missed this.
These are the facts. Joe Paterno was made aware that Jerry Sandusky was in the shower with a young boy a day after a witness saw it. What that witness told him is subject to interpretation, but we do know that the witness never told him that he had seen a boy being raped. It was the first and only time Joe Paterno had ever been told by a witness that Jerry had been in the showers with a young boy.
I must reiterate that the witness never told Paterno he witnessed a rape and never told police that he had seen one. The grand jury presentment inaccurately stated that the witness stated he had seen an anal rape and had told Joe Paterno "what he saw." The perception that Joe Paterno had been told about an anal rape and did nothing took hold and cost him his job.
In early 2013 University of Arkansas law professor Brian Gallini made that point the centerpiece of a 64-page paper published in the Tennessee Law Review. On page seven of his paper, he wrote: "Paterno's downfall illustrates the importance of grand jury secrecy -- both during and after its investigation. That secrecy, present in all federal grand jury proceedings, prevents collateral damage -- like job loss -- to unindicted criminally innocent third parties. The absence of that secrecy in Pennsylvania's investigative grand jury proceedings took Paterno's job, tarnished his legacy, and perhaps even shortened his life."
The presentment, combined with the state police commissioner's statement that Paterno had failed his moral obligation, doomed Paterno's career.
The commissioner made that statement despite the attorney general's having stated that Joe had been wholly cooperative, followed the law, and was not a subject of the investigation.
But the police commissioner's irresponsible characterization was allowed to stand unchallenged. The counter-narrative took hold. Even after the trial was over, Jerry Sandusky was never convicted of any rape on Penn State's campus.
The 2001 incident was one of two incidents at Penn State's campus that were brought to anyone's attention. A 1998 incident was investigated by the police, given to the county district attorney, and investigated by the state. The determination made was that no crime had been committed, and charges were never filed. The NCAA in handing down Penn State's sanctions stated that Penn State had failed to respond appropriately. The NCAA ignored the facts.
In his report Freeh alleged that Joe Paterno was not only made aware of the 1998 incident, but also "followed the investigation closely." He based this premise on an email from athletic director Tim Curley to university vice president Gary Schultz with the subject line "Joe Paterno" and the sentence "I have touched base with the coach." Not a word what he touched base about, nor the coach's identity.
What Freeh failed to consider are other 1998 factors. Jerry Sandusky was negotiating a retirement package. He was also talking with the university about starting a lower-division football program at Penn State's Altoona campus. There was also an investigation into a 1997 All-American running back's acceptance of improper benefits from a sports agent before the bowl game.
But Freeh's report made two assumptions about one sentence while ignoring the context, of which he was ignorant.
Several people testified under oath that Joe Paterno was never told of the 1998 incident. In the lengthy 1998 police report on the Sandusky incident, Joe Paterno's name was never mentioned. And Joe Paterno stated he had no recollection of being told. State law also required strict confidentiality in child sexual abuse investigations, so it would have been illegal for Joe Paterno to have been told.
All of this information was available to Freeh, but he chose to shape his interpretation to fit his unproven narrative in the face of a preponderance of evidence to the contrary.
In 2001 Sandusky no longer worked for Joe Paterno, and access to the facility had been granted to Sandusky by the administration and signed off by provost Rod Erickson (who would ascend to the presidency in the first
days of the scandal). Paterno, not sure what he could do in this situation, reported it to his superiors as required by law and by university policy.
ESPN writer and holder of multiple Pulitzer Prizes Don Van Natta said after reading all the reports: "Even if you believe he should have done more, it is a big leap to a cover-up, one unsupported by any evidence."
In a September 2013 interview with the CBS show 60 Minutes, Sandusky prosecutor Frank Fina was asked if he believed Joe Paterno had been involved in the alleged cover-up. "I do not," he said. "And I'm viewing this strictly on the evidence, not any kind of fealty to anybody. I did not find that evidence."
Clemente stated on ESPN's Outside the Lines on February 10, 2013:
"One man was responsible for this -- Jerry Sandusky. This was not a football culture problem. This was not a Penn State problem."
There is a perception that Sandusky continued even after the 2001 incident to bring kids to Penn State practices, travel with the team to away games and bowl games, and even bring them to the sidelines for home games. There is a perception he kept showing up and showering with boys in our building. That is one reason why some people believe we knew and looked the other way.
None of that is true. After he retired Sandusky was no longer part of our program, and we did not see him except when he came in to work out alone early in the morning.
When I went to ESPN in February 2013 to discuss the results of our report, I found persistent misinformation. After I explained the 1998 situation to Mike Golic and finished our interview, he stated Joe Paterno had to have known when Sandusky was arrested. Sandusky was not arrested in 1998.
Later that morning, Colin Cowherd stated that Joe Paterno should have known that Sandusky had been to a grand jury in 1998. There was no grand jury at that time. Cowherd also asserted that Paterno should have fired Sandusky in 2001. That would have required Joe Paterno to have re-hired him, so that he could fire him. All those months later, the false narratives persisted.
But the university administration finds it convenient to let the false perceptions remain because they help justify actions they took against Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program.
-- Excerpted by permission from Paterno Legacy by Jay Paterno. Copyright (c) 2014 by Jay Paterno. Published by Triumph Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Follow Jay Paterno on Twitter @JayPaterno.