STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Joe Paterno's family strongly denies the findings of a special investigator who described the late coach as one of four high-ranking university officials who covered up child sex abuse allegations against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
In a statement Monday, the family says they "vehemently disagree" with the conclusions reached by a team of investigators led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.
Freeh's scathing report last week said Paterno and other university officials covered up for Sandusky to avoid bad publicity. It says administrators reversed a decision to report a 2001 encounter between Sandusky and a boy after the athletic director discussed it with Paterno.
Sandusky was convicted last month of 45 counts.
The family has attorneys reviewing the Freeh report and says it is "absolutely not" the last word in the case.
The Paterno family's statement:
Following the release of the grand jury findings last fall, Joe Paterno called for a thorough, fair and transparent investigation. Like everyone else, Joe was stunned at the charges that were filed against Jerry Sandusky. At the same time, Joe cautioned against a rush to judgment on Penn State and its senior officials and reminded everyone that we owed it to the victims to uncover the full truth.
"The announcement of the findings by the Freeh Group is yet another shocking turn of events in this crisis. We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed. Mr. Freeh presented his opinions and interpretations as if they were absolute facts. We believe numerous issues in the report, and his commentary, bear further review.
"Our interest has been and remains the uncovering of the truth. We have never tried to run from this crisis or shift all responsibility to others. To help prevent this sort of tragedy from happening again at Penn State or any other institution, it is imperative that the full story be told.
"After the report was released, we instructed our attorneys and their experts to conduct a comprehensive review of the materials released by the Freeh Group as well as Mr. Freeh's presentation and press conference. We have also asked them to go beyond the report and identify additional information that should be analyzed. And we have asked the Freeh Group to preserve all records, notes and other materials related to the investigation and the presentation of their findings as we expect they will be the subject of great interest in the future.
"To those who are convinced that the Freeh report is the last word on this matter, that is absolutely not the case. Since various investigations and legal cases are still pending, it is highly likely that additional critical information will emerge.
"With that said, we want to take this opportunity to reiterate that Joe Paterno did not shield Jerry Sandusky from any investigation or review. The 1998 incident was fully and independently investigated by law enforcement officials. The Freeh report confirms this. It is also a matter of record that Joe Paterno promptly and fully reported the 2001 incident to his superiors. It can certainly be asserted that Joe Paterno could have done more. He acknowledged this himself last fall. But to claim that he knowingly, intentionally protected a pedophile is false.
"The process of reviewing the report and other relevant information is going to be a complicated and time consuming exercise. It took the Freeh Group roughly seven months to conduct more than 400 interviews and review three million documents. We do not expect or intend to duplicate this effort but we are going to be as thorough as reasonably possible. In the meantime, our attorneys have asked that we not make any further comment on this matter until they are ready to provide an update on their progress."
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