More than 250 people turned out Saturday night to listen to supporters of Joe Paterno rail against Penn State for its firing of the legendary coach exactly two years before and other parts of the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The event, “Upon Further Review,” saw the presenters roast Mike McQueary, the board of trustees and the media. Though the presentations they gave were complex and involved their analyses of data, their message was simple: they don’t believe the truth has come out of the scandal.
“Those investigations will hopefully get to the truth,” co-organizer Ray Blehar said during a presentation, referring to the attorney general’s internal review of the Sandusky investigation and a federal investigation. “If they don’t, we will continue to press on.”
The event was sponsored by Nittany Lion great Franco Harris, and in addition to Blehar, it featured presentations by Eileen Morgan and John Ziegler, a filmmaker who released the documentary “The Framing of Joe Paterno” last year.
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“We can’t forget what they did to Penn State,” said Harris, who’s been one of most visible Paterno supporters over the past two years. “We have to find the truth, and that’s what’s really important.”
Morgan prefaced her remarks by saying she wasn’t criticizing or judging McQueary. Morgan said parts of McQueary’s first three descriptions of the shower incident in 2001 are different from the last three, and she pointed out revelations that he made on the stand during a preliminary hearing for ex-administrators Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz over the summer.
That’s when McQueary said he had a conversation with Paterno in which the coach told him Nov. 9, 2011, that Old Main would make him the “scapegoat.”
Morgan also said the grand jury presentment that outlined the charges against Sandusky also had a glaring omission: any reference of what McQueary family friend Jonathan Dranov told the grand jury.
Blehar blasted the board of trustees, accusing former trustee John Surma of having a vendetta against Paterno and subsequently seeking his ouster. He also said he doesn’t believe that some trustees have said they didn’t see news reports in March 2011 about the investigation and weren’t aware of the allegations until the grand jury presentment came out.
As for the Freeh investigation, Blehar said it was a “fake investigation” and that former FBI director Louis Freeh “was hired to deceive the public into believing an independent investigation would be done.”
Ziegler, who’s conducted prison interviews with Sandusky, said the message that the media has put out is wrong about the nature of Sandusky’s crimes: “I believe that the nature of his crimes are vastly different from the public perception,” he said. “Gun to my head, I do not believe Jerry Sandusky had a sex act with a boy.”
Ziegler also took aim at the media, bashing national news reporters and anchors for saying that Sandusky had raped boys.
During a panel discussion that followed the presentations by Morgan, Blehar and Ziegler, Harrisburg lawyer Rob Tribeck said the grand jury that heard McQueary’s testimony was not the grand jury that was empanelled when the presentment was issued. The 30th statewide grand jury was first empanelled, and the 33rd grand jury was empanelled when the presentment was released.
Tribeck pointed to the grand jury presentment that said McQueary’s testimony was credible while that of Curley and Schultz was not found to be credible. He said the grand jury presentment was written by a prosecutor to “incite the public.” He said media followed what the presentment said “like sheep.”
Also on the panel, Penn State alumnus Ryan Bagwell said he’s set up a fund to help offset the costs to pursue his open-records cases that are before the state’s Open Records Office. He’s facing a challenge from Penn State to keep private email correspondence that former state education secretary and ex-trustee Ron Tomalis had with Freeh.
“I hope to substantially win, and if I do, I’m confident that Penn State will appeal,” Bagwell said.
The fund is online at https://www.pennstatesunshinefund.org.