STATE COLLEGE — Another Penn State trustee is urging a close look at a critique commissioned by Joe Paterno’s family of a school-sanctioned report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Trustee Ryan McCombie said in a statement late Monday that the findings should give pause to “closing the book and moving on” from the scandal.
McCombie stressed that he was speaking only for himself, not the board. Trustee Alvin Clemens said in a separate statement Monday that the board should re-examine Freeh’s findings after the analysis commissioned by late coach Joe Paterno’s family raised serious questions.
“We need to ‘take a breath;’ read the entire (Paterno family) report and digest it,” McCombie said. “Only then can we begin an open, thoughtful and useful conversation about what happened in Happy Valley and how to prevent it from happening anywhere again.”
The family’s review called Freeh’s report flawed and unfounded, saying it resulted in a “rush to injustice.”
Freeh has stood by his findings released in July that Paterno and three former administrators conspired to conceal allegations against Sandusky, a retired defensive coordinator. In a statement Sunday, Freeh described the family’s effort as “self-serving” in an attempt to shape Paterno’s legacy.
The family had held off on responding in detail until its own review was complete and released over the weekend.
Since then, Paterno’s son and former assistant coach, Jay Paterno, has been making nonstop appearances on radio and television programs. He said he’s received a lot of positive response and honest, respectful discussions.
“We have to keep working at it,” Jay Paterno said Tuesday in a phone interview. “We’re interested in getting the truth out.”
Among experts hired for the review were Dick Thornburgh, a former U.S. attorney general and Pennsylvania governor; and former FBI profiler James Clemente, who worked at the bureau under Freeh. Clemente’s biography listed an assignment with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit crimes against children section.
Thornburgh, too, knows Freeh. Both Thornburgh and Clemente initially were hesitant about conducting the review, Jay Paterno said, until becoming convinced otherwise after reading the Freeh report.
Freeh’s report didn’t properly factor dynamics of child sexual victimization and “misinterpreted evidence and behavior and reached erroneous conclusions,” Clemente said in his analysis. He offered recommendations for prevention and to raise awareness.
Jay Paterno thought back to his own interactions with Sandusky after reading Clemente’s analysis last week. “As I read the report, I started to look back if I was aware of some of these things — if people in the office, in the community, people in protective services (were aware) — we might have been able to see this,” he said.
Another trustee who joined the board last summer, lawyer and former football player Adam Taliaferro, has said the family’s report should be given as close a read as the Freeh report. Both Taliaferro and McCombie drew support from some alumni disgruntled with how university leadership has handled the scandal.
They were not board members when Paterno was fired in November 2011, days after Sandusky was arrested. Sandusky is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years after being convicted last summer on 45 criminal counts.
Carl Shaffer, a trustee nominated by the state’s agricultural societies, declined to comment about the Paterno family’s rebuttal to the Freeh report.
He echoed what Penn State’s leadership said about the Freeh report on Sunday.
“My main part of the Freeh report I was interested in was the recommendations to change our governance and policies so this can never happen again,” said Shaffer, a Columbia County farmer and president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, when reached by phone Tuesday.
Jay Paterno was diplomatic when asked if, or how, he wanted trustees to take action in light of the critique.
“I would hope that the leadership of a university that has been as strong academically (as Penn State) would not fear taking a look at all things and all facts,” he said.
Freeh’s stinging findings were cited by the NCAA when college sports’ governing body hammered Penn State with unprecedented penalties, including a four-year bowl ban and steep scholarship cuts. Also, 111 wins under Paterno were vacated, meaning the Hall of Fame coach no longer held the record for most major college victories.
The Paternos haven’t ruled out any legal options, family attorney Wick Sollers has said.