The widow of Joe Paterno slammed the investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh that concluded her late husband didn’t do enough to stop former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky from molesting young boys.
The widow, Sue Paterno, criticized the investigation and the final report that resulted from it when she did her first TV interview since the Sandusky molestation scandal broke out into the open with his arrest in 2011. The interview was seen Monday afternoon on Katie Couric’s talk show, “Katie.”
Sandusky was convicted last year on 45 molestation counts. Sue Paterno’s husband, long-time Penn State football legend Joe Paterno, was abruptly fired in November 2011 when it came to light that he may have had knowledge of Sandusky’s behavior with young boys but did not move aggressively to put a stop to it.
Joe Paterno died a few months later — in January 2012 — of lung cancer. Last summer, an investigation led by the former FBI director concluded that Paterno and other university officials behaved in a way that amounted to a cover-up of Sandusky’s behavior, which was apparently ongoing both before and after Paterno and others knew about it.
But now, members of Paterno’s family — led by his widow — are speaking out about the Freeh report in an apparent publicity campaign aimed at restoring the coach’s image and reputation. Their first stop: The Couric show, where they talked about an independent investigation they paid an attorney to conduct. Not too surprisingly, their investigation came to a different conclusion about Joe Paterno’s role in the alleged cover-up — which is to say, the coach was not complicit in the cover-up, according to their findings.
“I was looking forward to the Freeh report,” Sue Paterno told Couric. “We’ll get to the truth,” she said, voicing her hope that her late husband’s name would be cleared.
That did not happen, however. “I was totally devastated” by the report’s conclusion, she said. “[Freeh] didn’t know Joe,” she said. “[The description of her husband in the report] was not the Joe I knew,” she told Couric.
Sue Paterno rejects the idea that her husband participated in a cover-up. She insisted that her husband simply didn’t know Sandusky was involved in inappropriate behavior with boys (although the coach was allegedly told about it). “We were all totally unaware” of Sandusky’s secret life, she said of the convicted child molester who worked with her husband for years.
“He had adopted children,” she said of Sandusky. “The experts vetted him,” she noted, in an attempt to show that if the experts who are charged with vetting applicants for foster and adopted children didn’t know Sandusky was a child molester, how should Joe Paterno?
Curiously, when it came time to answer Couric’s specific questions about why and how the Paterno-family investigation takes issue with the Freeh report, Mrs. Paterno demurred to an attorney, Wick Sollers, who was sitting in the audience.
The Freeh report was “oversold to the public,” the attorney told Couric. “It was deeply flawed. They didn’t talk to the key people,” he said, noting that one of them, Joe Paterno himself, had unfortunately died before the investigation was conducted.
We have a feeling this is just the beginning of a full-blown p.r. campaign on the part of Paterno’s family. Look for them on other TV talk shows in the days and weeks to come.