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Live blog: Penn State investigation

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

In lieu of the Wakeup Call this morning, we’re going to focus entirely on the results of the Penn State investigation, due for an online release at 9 a.m. You can find it right here.

And I mean it when I say we.

Going to try something different here. Rather than write a 24-hour-old column for the Friday paper on this topic, I’m going to look through the material just as you can, then search through an array of interpretations, viewpoints and reactions. That’s where you come in. If you find something that adds to the discussion, add your link below, and I’ll put it up here.

Consider it a live, interactive column-as-you-go.

We’ll keep going right up until the regular weekly chat at noon.

USA Today’s Christine Brennan, of whom I have long been a fan, wrote in anticipation of the release. Wouldn’t envy anyone that assignment.

Here is the Trib’s ongoing coverage.

UPDATE 9:01 a.m.: And there goes the download race. Anyone else having trouble? Or is the entire nation looking at “Unable to Serve this Request?”

9:10: This isn’t an easy story to “break.” Takes actual time to digest. Highly reminiscent of the Supreme Court’s decision last week on health care, which several outlets blew because of a rush to take a complex document and condense it to a bulletin.

Looking at the AP wire, and it still has a one-sentence alert: “Report: Paterno, others at Penn St. demonstrated no concern for well-being of abuse victims.” I also am watching CNN, the most prominent of those who seriously blew the Supreme Court news, and the guy on there now is only talkng about “how careful I want to be in waiting to see the full report.”


9:15: The New York Times is moving faster than anyone else I can find.

Here’s the money statement from former FBI chief Louis Freeh, the man who led the investigation: “Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

9:16: Here’s a better link to the report, thanks to Todd down in comments. I’ve got mine open, and the first thing I did — probably not alone on this — is search the pdf document for references to Joe Paterno. Turns up he’s on 69 of the 200 pages.

9:26: I’m kind of cheating and moving down to the Mike McQuery stuff, the place where the most likely smoking gun would be found. Couple key excerpts:

A contemporaneous “confidential” note of a February 12, 2001 meeting between Schultz and Curley reflects that the men “[r]eviewed 1998 history.” The note states that Schultz and Curley “[a]greed [Curley] will discuss w JVP [Paterno] & advise we think [Curley] should meet w JS [Sandusky] on Friday. Unless he confesses to having a problem, [Curley] will indicate we need to have DPW [Department of Public Welfare] review the matter as an independent agency concerned w child welfare.” Without ever speaking to McQueary, Schultz and Curley had already decided that not reporting Sandusky’s conduct to authorities may be an option.

By February 12, 2001, Schultz and/or Curley had: met with Paterno who reported what McQueary had told him; had a “heads up” meeting with Spanier advising him about the incident; discussed the “reporting of suspected child abuse” with outside counsel; reviewed the history of the 1998 incident; checked to see if the incident was documented in police files; agreed that Curley would discuss with Paterno the idea of approaching Sandusky to see if he would “confess to having a problem;” and researched the Board membership of the Second Mile.

There is no information indicating that Spanier, Schultz, Paterno or Curley made any effort to identify the child victim or determine if he had been harmed.

9:35: Smoking gun, anyone?

I’m not CNN, and I don’t have a team of lawyers scrutinizing. Just shamelessly seeking the punch line. You know, just like all of you.

9:42: This is as close as anything I can find, as reported by the Times:

One new and central finding of the Freeh investigation is that Paterno knew as far back as 1998 that there were concerns Sandusky might be behaving inappropriately with children. It was then that the campus police investigated a claim by a mother that her son had been molested by Sandusky in a shower at Penn State.

9:52: I’ll be honest. I’m not done yet, but what I see so far are a lot of sweeping statements. It’s intriguing that the word “instituational” in on 11 different pages of the report, in each case referring to instituational control. That’s a hot-button word in the NCAA because it’s the most likely path to the so-called death penalty for football.

The report says Penn State must answer four questions regarding institutional control and ethics.

Does that open the door for the NCAA to move next?

Actually, does it make it mandatory that the NCAA does so?

9:58: Andy in the comments notes that Tom Bradley is never mentioned. That’s correct. I’m sure that’s also a relief to those, including myself, who have believed in the man.

10:00: It’s becoming clear that the focus here is that Paterno knew of Sandusky’s behavior in 1998. That would directly contradict Paterno’s testimony to the grand jury that he knew only of the 2001 shower incident.

If he lied about that …

10:04: Freeh, in his news conference now, calls those 2001 emails that were leaded last week “the most important evidence” his investigation produced. He also confirmed the McQueary incident was in 2001, not 2002 as McQueary had previously confused.

10:12: Why do I have to keep changing the channel to hear this?

10:13: Boom! Freeh very specifically targets Paterno’s Feb. 26, 2001, conversation with the three principles as “critical” in the burying of the 2001 incident. Of Paterno’s already known remark to McQueary at the time that he’d figure out what to do, Freeh caustically asked, “What was there to figure out?”

10:20: This is from Slick in the comments: “If the NCAA does hand down the death penalty, they should allow each of the Scholarship players to transfer to another school this year even if said school is at their scholarship limit.  PSU should also be on the hook for the salaries for the coaches and support staff until they find equivalent employment elsewhere.”

This sounds good, but the general concept that somehow the current football program gets to wash its hands and move on, that’s not how it works. When Enron committed massive financial fraud, the company wasn’t about to just walk because it changed figureheads. Punishments still apply to the institution or company.

In other words, it sounds good when you say it. Doesn’t mean a thing.

10:27: Jay Paterno issues a statement in which he calls this investigation “still just one opinion, one piece of the puzzle.” Um, no.

10:28: “No indication,” Freeh said, that Paterno told any of his assistants what he knew about Sandusky. This is twice now Freeh has stressed that. Important and telling on a lot of levels.

10:31: Freeh won’t comment on whether Paterno perjured himself, but Freeh stresses that Paterno “clearly followed” the 1998 case and that the  notion Paterno wasn’t aware of it — as he told the grand jury — “is completely contradicted by the evidence.” That’s Freeh openly, glaringly accusing Paterno of lying.

This is it. This is the thing.

10:35: Freeh has been in regular contact with the NCAA since the investigation began, “at their initiation. … What they find is going to be based on their criteria and their conclusions.” He added that the NCAA wasn’t privy to the investigation’s findings, though, until the rest of us were.

10:36: Freeh, on whether Paterno deserved to be fired: “Yes.” That was the whole answer.

10:39: Schultz “actively sought to conceal those” emails, Freeh said, adding that “it was a dumb thing to do. You don’t do that.” Sounds like the beginning of a doubly serious charge for that man.

10:40: Good God. The assistant DA who declined to prosecute in 1998 refused to speak to the investigators. Just wow.

10:45: Going to type up something on a separate file here soon. Thanks so much to so many of you for participating and helping.

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