For the most part I hold my family members to a certain standard largely because of how we were raised. But I’ve learned in life and family that you can’t place anything past anyone.
This is the slow, painful lesson that the Paterno family is learning about their patriarch.
I don’t know if it would be accurate or fair for me to say that the family of Joe Paterno is in denial about his knowledge of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children Penn State’s campus.
Sadly, Joe Paterno isn’t here to defend himself against the mounting evidence that indicts him in the Freeh Report.
I’m sure that it’s been difficult to look at or read anything that implicates Joe’s involvement in the scandal, but it’s time to put the Joe Paterno portion of this scandal to bed.
Yesterday the family issued a statement accusing the NCAA through their sanctions against the school of defaming the legacy of Joe Paterno by taking away 111 wins between 1998 and 2011. The time in which he knew of Sandusky’s acts.
“Sexual abuse is reprehensible, especially when it involves children, and no one starting with Joe Paterno condones or minimizes it. The horrific acts committed by Jerry Sandusky shock the conscience of every decent human being. How Sandusky was able to get away with his crimes for so long has yet to be fully understood, despite the claims and assertions of the Freeh report.
The release of the Freeh report has triggered an avalanche of vitriol, condemnation and posthumous punishment on Joe Paterno. The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal. The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.
That the President, the Athletic Director and the Board of Trustees accepted this unprecedented action by the NCAA without requiring a full due process hearing before the Committee on Infractions is an abdication of their responsibilities and a breach of their fiduciary duties to the University and the 500,000 alumni. Punishing past, present and future students of the University because of Sandusky’s crimes does not serve justice. This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did.
The point of due process is to protect against this sort of reflexive action. Joe Paterno was never interviewed by the University or the Freeh Group. His counsel has not been able to interview key witnesses as they are represented by counsel related to ongoing litigation. We have had no access to the records reviewed by the Freeh group. The NCAA never contacted our family or our legal counsel. And the fact that several parties have pending trials that could produce evidence and testimony relevant to this matter has been totally discounted.
Unfortunately all of these facts have been ignored by the NCAA, the Freeh Group and the University.”
This was no witch hunt for Joe Paterno as we all hoped that he wasn’t involved, but he was. And the one thing worse than being the perpetraitor of a crime is to be an enabler with knowledge of wrongdoing.
The more you listen to the family, it becomes clear that there was no deathbed confessions or any of the like. This was an ugly, unnecessary part of his job that Joe Paterno never brought home.
He simply took it with him.
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