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Paterno family slams Penn State scandal review

Sue Paterno, widow of Joe Paterno, is seated during a public memorial for the football coach on January 26, 2012
Sue Paterno, widow of Joe Paterno, is seated during a public memorial for the former Penn State football coach at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus on January 26, 2012. A report commissioned by the family of Joe Paterno claimed Sunday that

A report commissioned by the family of the late Joe Paterno claimed Sunday that a probe of the child sex scandal at Penn State University was flawed and biased and "totally wrong" on key issues.

Paterno was an icon at Penn State and in US collegiate football as the longtime head coach of the university's Nittany Lions.

But his legacy was tarnished by his association with the scandal, which ended with onetime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky jailed for 30-60 years -- effectively for life -- after he was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sex abuse.

An independent probe of the scandal commissioned by Penn State and headed by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, found evidence of a broad cover-up that allowed Sandusky to continue abusing impressionable boys that he hosted at the university and on trips as part of charity work.

The Paterno family's expert team included former Pennsylvania governor and US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, former top FBI profiler Jim Clemente, prominent Washington attorney Wick Sollers and the director of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit, doctor Fred Berlin.

Each of the panelists wrote a separate review of the Freeh report, released last July, over the past six months.

As a group, they concluded the Freeh report "does not meet the basic requirements of a thorough, objective and fair investigation."

Among other findings, the experts determined that the conclusions of the Freeh report are "based on raw speculation and unsupported opinion -- not facts and evidence."

"It isn't a little wrong on the minor issues," Sollers said. "It is totally wrong on the most critical issues. That the (Penn State) Board and the NCAA relied on this report, without appropriate review or analysis, is a miscarriage of justice."

Based on Freeh's findings, the powerful NCAA, which governs college sports, gutted Penn State's football program.

Penalties included a four-year post-season ban, five years of probation and the vacation of all wins dating to 1998.

The sanctions erased many of the victories that had made Paterno the coach with the most wins at the top level in US college football history.

Paterno was never criminally charged, but the legendary figure became emblematic of a failure by university management to respond to indications that Sandusky, had been flagrantly abusing children.

Paterno was sacked in November of 2011, a few weeks after the scandal broke. He died in January of 2012 of lung cancer at the age of 85.

In the Freeh report, Paterno was among many Penn State officials accused of concealing "critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the board of trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large."

The investigators commissioned by his family concluded that he did not attempt to hide any information or hinder or impede any investigation related to the crimes or conduct of Sandusky.

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