Joe Paterno followed university procedures and cooperated fully with the investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky, a lawyer for the late Penn State football coach said in a statement issued Saturday.
Family attorney Wick Sollers said in the brief statement that Paterno followed university procedures and testified truthfully and to the best of his memory when called before a grand jury investigating Sandusky.
The statement came one day after a CNN report released details of alleged email exchanges between former top Penn State officials regarding a 2001 report that Sandusky was seen in a campus shower molesting a young boy.
The emails appear to show former university President Graham Spanier and then-administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz agreed not to go to authorities with the allegations. The CNN report didn't specify what they thought the incident included.
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According to the report, Curley and Schultz first discussed reporting the incident, then decided to speak directly with Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator.
In one email exchange, Curley wrote, apparently referring to Paterno, “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone but the person involved. I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation.”
In his statement, Sollers said the Paterno family doesn’t possess the emails, and therefore could not comment on what they allegedly say.
“To be clear, the emails in question did not originate with Joe Paterno or go to him as he never personally utilized email,” the statement said.
In the emails, Spanier, Curley and Schultz agreed it would be “humane” to confront Sandusky with the allegations directly, rather than go to authorities first.
Curley and Schultz are facing perjury and failure to report abuse charges. They maintain their innocence.
Spanier has not been charged and is in a legal battle with the university about whether he can have access to old emails. He said in a legal suit that he needs them to properly respond to the investigation the university is having done on the scandal.
The incident was reported by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who testified at trial he thought the incident was sexual in nature based on the sounds he heard and the positioning of Sandusky’s body against the young boy’s body. But he testified he didn’t see intercourse.
Sandusky was acquitted of the most serious charge from that allegation, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, but convicted on 45 of 48 counts related to 10 victims and awaits sentencing.
In the Paterno family’s statement, Sollers said, “Coach Paterno followed (u)niversity procedures and promptly and fully informed his superiors. He believed the matter would be thoroughly and professionally investigated and he did not interfere with or attempt to compromise any investigation.”
The emails in the CNN report were turned up by Penn State’s third-party investigative team led by Louis Freeh and given to the state Attorney General’s Office.
Incoming board of trustees member Anthony Lubrano, in a statement issued Saturday, said he is “disappointed with the continuing leaks of information” in the investigation, and cautioned against making judgments until more details are available.
“If we learned anything last November from our response to incomplete and inaccurate information, it’s that we should not rush to judgment,” he said. “We must let the legal process run its course. In time, hopefully we will learn more.”
Lubrano has been critical of the board’s handling of the Paterno firing.
Maribeth Schmidt, a spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said in the statement, “there isn’t anyone in the Penn State community who doesn’t want to the full account of the Penn State administration's knowledge, but leaking evidence isn’t going to get us there any more truthfully or any faster.
“We need to trust in a fair and objective process and wonder about the intentions of those who would choose to leak such information,” the statement said.
Martine Charles, a spokeswoman for the attorneys representing Curley and Schultz, said in a statement regarding the emails that the “responsible and ‘humane’ thing to do” was assess the troubling but vague allegation from McQueary.
“Faced with tough situations, good people try to do their best to make the right decisions,” the statement said.
Spanier has not responded to requests for comment about the emails.
Penn State spokesman David La Torre said in a statement that “the public and Penn State will receive the Freeh Report at the same time. The Board of Trustees and the Penn State administration will certainly discuss the Freeh Report when it is issued.”
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter