By Anne Danahy, McClatchy Newspapers –
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The family of Joe Paterno wants the Pennsylvania attorney general and the team Penn State hired to investigate the Jerry Sandusky scandal to release all emails and records related to the case.
In a strongly worded statement released through family attorney Wick Sollers, the Paterno family sharply criticized recent leaks of emails that Penn State administrators were said to have exchanged in response to the 2001 Jerry Sandusky shower incident. The family statement says that the investigative team hired by the university, led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and the attorney general should release the information now.
“With the leaking of selective emails over the last few days, it is clear that someone in a position of authority is not interested in a fair or thorough investigation,” the statement issued Monday afternoon says. “The public should not have to try and piece together a story from a few records that have been selected in a calculated way to manipulate public opinion.”
The statement follows a report from CNN Friday night on emails between President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and senior administrator Gary Schultz, all of whom are no longer with the university. The emails appear to focus on deciding how to respond to a report that graduate Mike McQueary saw Sandusky in a university shower with a boy who appeared to be 10 years old.
McQueary has testified that he told Paterno about the incident — one that he has described as very sexual — and later discussed it with Curley and Schultz. Curley and Schultz are charged with perjury and failure to report abuse. They maintain their innocence and that they did not know the extent of the allegations.
Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts related to sexually abusing 10 boys.
The CNN report leaves the impression that after speaking with Paterno about the incident, Curley favored talking with Sandusky directly rather than going to authorities.
“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone but the person involved. I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation,” an email allegedly from Curley reads.
The Paterno family statement questions why the emails are being leaked now.
“Releasing these emails in this way is not intended to inform the discussion but to smear former Penn State officials, including Joe Paterno,” the statement says. “The truth is Joe Paterno reported the 2001 incident promptly and fully. He was interviewed by the grand jury for a total of 8 minutes and told the truth to the best of his recollection. He was never interviewed by the university.
“He was not afforded due process and his story was never fully told. And he was never allowed to see the files and records that are now in question. In spite of these facts, however, numerous pundits and critics are exploiting these disconnected and distorted records to attack Joe Paterno.”
University trustees fired Paterno and Spanier in November. Paterno died in January.
Trustees commissioned Freeh to conduct an independent investigation into the scandal and determine whether there was a cover-up. President Rodney Erickson said recently that he expects to see that report this month.
In the meantime, the university and state have been trying to keep a tight lid on information related to the case. The emails in question were apparently found by the Freeh team, which turned them over to the Attorney General’s Office.
A university spokesman declined to comment on the Paterno family’s call for the immediate release of the emails.
The spokesman for the attorney general did not respond to a request for comment.