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Freeh Report: Joe Paterno Knew In 1998

Illustration for article titled Freeh Report: Joe Paterno Knew In 1998

In his testimony before the grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno denied knowing anything about the 1998 incident in which Sandusky was investigated but never charged after police received a report from a woman who claimed Sandusky had showered with her son and touched the boy. And in his interview with Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post shortly before his death, Paterno said, "Nobody knew about it" when asked directly about his knowledge of the 1998 case. The '98 incident, you'll recall, would have happened when Sandusky was still employed as the defensive coordinator on Paterno's staff. But the Freeh Report released this morning makes it plain as day that Paterno and other top Penn State officials were well aware of the investigation and that they had numerous discussions about it right up until the district attorney decided not to press charges.

This is from a transcript of Paterno's grand jury testimony, which was read into the record during the December preliminary hearing for the two Penn State administrators who still face charges of perjury and failure to report abuse:

Q: Other than the incident that Mike McQueary reported to you, do you know in any way, through rumor, direct knowledge or any other fashion, of any other inappropriate sexual conduct by Jerry Sandusky with young boys?

A: I do not know of anything else that Jerry Sandusky would be involved in, no. I do not know of it. You did mention—I think you said something about a rumor. It may have been discussed in my presence, something else about somebody. I don't know. I don't remember, and I could not honestly say I heard a rumor.


The 1998 incident, which involved Victim 6 from the grand jury report, happened on May 3. By May 5, Gary Schultz, the university's vice president of business and finance, had communicated with Tim Curley, Penn State's athletic director. This is from Page 48 of the Freeh report:

In an email from Curley to Schultz and [PSU president Graham] Spanier at 5:24 p.m. captioned "Joe Paterno," Curley reports, "I have touched base with the coach. Keep us posted. Thanks."

Then there's this, on Page 49:

As the investigation progressed, Curley made several requests to Schultz for updates. On May 13, 1998 at 2:21 p.m., Curley emailed Schultz a message captioned "Jerry," and asked, "Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands." Schultz forwarded Curley's note to [university police chief Thomas] Harmon, who provided an email update that Schultz then forward to Curley. The reference to Coach is believed to be Paterno.

On May 18, 1998, Curley requested another update by email. Schultz responded that there was no news and that he did not expect to hear anything before the end of the week.

On May 30, 1998, Curley asked for another update by email. Schultz was on vacation at the time, but responded on June 8, 1998, saying that he understood before he left for vacation that "DPW and Univ Police services were planning to meet with him. I'll see if this happens and get back to you."


On June 1, the investigation was closed and Sandusky was not charged with a crime, though he was advised not to shower again with children. And here's Page 51 of the report:

After Curley's initial updates to Paterno, the available record is not clear as to how the conclusion of the Sandusky investigation was conveyed to Paterno. Witnesses consistently told the Special Investigative Counsel that Paterno was in control of the football facilities and knew "everything that was going on." As Head Coach, he had the authority to establish permissible uses of football facilities. Nothing in the record indicates that Curley or Schultz discussed whether Paterno should restrict or terminate Sandusky's uses of the facilities of that Paterno conveyed any such expectations to Sandusky.


Less than three years later, on Feb. 9, 2001, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary discovered Sandusky alone with a boy in a Penn State football building shower. Joe Paterno testified that McQueary told him he had witnessed something of "a sexual nature."


Read all our coverage of the Freeh report here.

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