A Penn State trustee said Monday that the board should take another look at the conclusions in the scathing Freeh report after the Paterno family’s rebuttal that was released this weekend.
Alvin Clemens said the Paterno family’s analysis “raises a number of extremely serious and troubling questions” about the Freeh report, which concluded former head coach Joe Paterno helped conceal abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago. The analysis was co-authored by former Gov. Dick Thornburgh.
“In light of the questions raised in the Thornburgh review, the board of trustees should re-examine the findings and conclusions of the Freeh report,” Clemens said.
A spokesman for Penn State declined to comment on Clemens’ request.
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The Paterno family’s analysis attacked the Freeh report as “fundamentally flawed” in its characterizations about Joe Paterno. The analysis also said the Freeh report was incomplete because Freeh’s investigators did not interview some crucial witnesses, such as senior leaders Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.
Clemens has been a trustee since 1995.
Maribeth Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, applauded Clemens’ comments.
“We remain perplexed that the trustees would have ever been satisfied with a report that incriminates Penn State so horribly, yet is such a blatant distortion of facts and rush to judgement,” Schmidt said. “The Penn State community deserved far better. The trustees’ failure to critically review the Freeh Report has compromised the health, well-being and value of the university brand as it relates to every single group of its constituents.”
Clemens’ comments make him the second trustee to speak out publicly against the Freeh report.
The first was newcomer Anthony Lubrano, who channeled alumni angst for the university’s handling of Paterno’s firing and the fallout of the Sandusky scandal into winning a seat on the board.
In January, during the trustees’ board meeting on campus, Clemens read off a list of Paterno’s teams’ academic and athletic achievements as well as the coach’s donations. Clemens told the board he was offended by the NCAA’s regarding Penn State as a place with a culture problem.
“I think we’re all appreciative of what he’s done for the university,” Clemens said of Paterno during the meeting.
His comments set off applause by nearly half the crowd.
On Monday, Clemens said Penn State is obligated to the victims of Sandusky, the local community and people who care about preventing abuse by getting to the truth of what happened.
He criticized Freeh for rejecting the Paterno family critique quickly.
“To dismiss this report out of hand, as Mr. Freeh did immediately after it was released, would be a grave error,” Clemens said.
Trustee Paul Silvis told the Centre Daily Times on Sunday, after the Paterno family’s analysis was released, that he did not think anyone involved knew Sandusky was a pedophile but was not sure how the analysis would be helpful or aggravate the situation.
“The recommendations in the back of the Freeh report are really what we paid for and what we wanted,” Silvis said.