A state prosecutor who helped put Jerry Sandusky behind bars doesn’t think the late coach Joe Paterno was involved in the alleged cover-up among Penn State administrators that rocked the university and led to sanctions against the football team.
That’s the conclusion that former state Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, who was a central part of the grand jury investigation into the child abuse allegations against Sandusky, made during an interview to be aired at 10 p.m. Wednesday on “60 Minutes Sports” on Showtime.
“I do not,” Fina said in response to a question from journalist Armen Keteyian about whether he thought Paterno played a role in concealing the abuse allegations. “And — and I — I’m viewing this strictly on the evidence, not any kind of fealty to anybody.
“I did not find that evidence.”
Fina and co-prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III sat down for a pre-recorded interview during which they reflected on their experiences from the high-profile case that played out at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte. CBS News released a snippet of the interview Tuesday.
Paterno’s dismissal and the subsequent sullying of his name and legacy is still an open wound for Penn State alumni and football fans since the coach was fired via phone by then-trustee John Surma. The coach was never indicted, though a university-commissioned investigation blamed him, Spanier, Curley and Schultz for hiding abusing allegations against Sandusky for fear of bad publicity.
Paterno was told about an incident involving Sandusky and a young boy in a shower in 2001, and Paterno reported it to his superior, Curley, who handled it with Schultz and Spanier and never reported it to authorities.
Paterno was fired 10 years later, when the incident was among the allegations in the first grand jury presentment. Penn State’s board of trustees said Paterno didn’t fulfill his moral obligations.
Evidence in the Freeh report, including emails suggesting Paterno was involved in the decision-making surrounding the 2001 incident, was among the findings in a second grand jury presentment, in November 2012, but Paterno had died before it was released.
Fina, in the interview, acknowledged Paterno didn’t do enough.
“And I don’t see any need to judge him beyond his own words,” Fina said. “He said it best: ‘I didn’t do enough. I should have done more.’ ”
Though Fina wasn’t critical of Paterno, he had harsh words for the other three, according to the interview.
“We’ve got a massive, multibillion dollar entity that — at the time — we don’t realize, although we would come to realize it — may not be fully committed to disclosing what the reality is,” Fina said. “Of course, we — we come to realize that they’re actively obstructing — our investigation.”
“And they had been for many years.”
Fina said the three men “deserved to be charged” and he hopes “justice will be served.”
McGettigan was asked during the interview how many individuals were abused by Sandusky beyond the 10 victims outlined in the grand jury presentment.
“There are dozens more,” McGettigan said, adding the claims of abuse date back to the 1970s, when Sandusky started The Second Mile charity for at-risk youth.
Sandusky, serving a 30-year minimum sentence, has appealed his conviction and wants a new trial. A state appeals court will hear his lawyer’s arguments Sept. 17 at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.
Spanier, Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on counts of perjury, obstruction of justice conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to report abuse. The men’s lawyers have steadfastly maintained their clients’ innocence.
Both Fina and McGettigan left the Attorney General’s Office since Kathleen Kane was sworn in.
Fina has taken a job in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and McGettigan is working at a private firm in Chester County.