Updated: February 12, 2013 7:00 AM

Family report can't hide JoePa truth

Paterno broke no law, just code of human decency - and family report can't whitewash that.


Family report can't hide JoePa truth

Family report can't hide JoePa truth

Joe Paterno isn't going to walk on a technicality. He can't get off on reasonable doubt. It doesn't matter if he wasn't given due process.

This isn't the TV show "Law & Order", and Paterno isn't a perp. He was never charged with a crime or taken to court in the first place.

So the Paterno family commissioned its attorney to find loopholes in the Freeh Report, issue its own report and start rebuilding Paterno's name. Paterno's widow Sue and son Jay were on the interview circuit Monday, on CNN, ESPN, Katie Couric.

It's desperate and kind of sad, really. And it has zero chance of working.

This is the court of public opinion. No one is swayed by a lawyer saying there is no proof that when Penn State officials said they told "Coach'' about Jerry Sandusky in 1998, they meant Coach Joe Paterno.

They weren't talking about the women's diving coach. But can you prove that? Beyond a shadow of a doubt? This was a bad play by the Paterno family, but maybe the only one. The truth is that their report didn't come up with much. But they had to go out and sell it to Katie Couric, anyway.

A lawyer talking lawyer-ese and finding loopholes isn't going to change anything. Paterno's name isn't in jail because of broken laws, but because of a broken code of human decency.

Paterno didn't do enough. That might not be a technical, legal term, but it really is that simple. Young boys were in serious danger, and Paterno didn't do enough to help them.

At the very least, Mike McQueary told Paterno in 2001 that he had seen Sandusky do something inappropriate with a young boy. And then, with moral decency calling, Paterno did not do everything he could to stop it.

It's not about what the Freeh Report did or didn't do. The Freeh report said that Paterno didn't do enough, and it was right. Did it dot every "i" right to make the court system happy?

It doesn't matter.

I'm reluctant to get into the details of the Paterno family report, because that's their game. It's their goal.

It's a shell game: Look over here at this report while we slide what really matters over there. The Paterno family is trying to draw you into a phony debate. It's their Hail Mary.

Paterno did tell his boss after McQueary had come to him. So Paterno covered his butt. But he had a much greater responsibility than that.

Maybe not legally, but morally.

He was the biggest, most powerful person on that campus and in that town. Kicking it up to the bosses is the kind of thing a young, low-level employee is supposed to do.

This is actually part of the Paterno family report:

"Expert analysis shows that while signs of Jerry Sandusky's child molestation existed with the benefit of hindsight, at the time of the 2001 shower incident reported by graduate assistant Mike McQueary, information conveyed to Joe Paterno in terms that were too general and vague for him to disregard decades of contrary experience with Sandusky.''

As summarized in former FBI profiler Jim Clemente's own words: "It is my expert opinion that Paterno did not know, or even believe in the possibility, that Sandusky was capable of sexually assaulting boys. At worst, he believed that Sandusky was a touchy-feely guy who had boundary issues.''

A touchy-feely guy who had boundary issues. Think about that: McQueary tells Paterno he saw something inappropriate between Sandusky and a young boy in a shower. And Paterno possibly thinks of Sandusky as a touchy-feely guy with boundary issues.

That should have sent off sirens in Paterno's head.

The fingernails-on-the-chalkboard defense that the family keeps pushing is that Joe said he wished he would have done more. That's just not good enough.

Boys were raped. And Paterno, moreso than anyone, had the power to protect them.

There is no legal maneuvering around that.

Don't blame a family for trying to salvage a ruined patriarch's name and image. Their husband, father, grandfather spent a lifetime known as a good and caring human being. Now in death, his name is mud. You can't even blame the family for its desperation.

Paterno did have his chance to talk with Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, but chose instead to talk with biographer Joe Posnanski and columnist Sally Jenkins.

So we didn't need a 237-page Paterno report to twist meanings and parse words. Think common sense and common decency.

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