STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno’s family has called on Pennsylvania’s attorney general and former FBI Director Louis Freeh to release all emails and records related to their investigations into the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal, saying a leaker or leakers have used selective emails to “smear” the late coach and university officials.
Family lawyer Wick Sollers’ statement Monday followed news reports of leaked emails between administrators about graduate assistant Mike McQueary’s 2001 account of an encounter between former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and a boy in the showers.
CNN reported that one email outlined a change in plans among administrators after Athletic Director Tim Curley spoke to Paterno.
“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,” Sollers said in the strongly worded statement.
Sollers represents the family of former coach Paterno, who was fired in November and died of cancer less than three months later. Freeh is leading the school’s internal investigation into the scandal.
The release of the emails, Sollers said, was “not intended to inform the discussion, but to smear former Penn State officials, including Joe Paterno. The truth is Joe Paterno reported the 2001 incident promptly and fully … In spite of these facts, however, numerous pundits and critics are exploiting these disconnected and distorted records to attack Joe Paterno.”
Paterno, Sollers said, testified for eight minutes before the grand jury that approved charges and “told the truth to the best of his recollection.” Paterno was not interviewed by the university, was not afforded due process or did not tell his story in full, and was not allowed to see the files or records now in question, the lawyer said.
Sollers called for the immediate release of all emails and records related to the case, adding that “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.”
Spokespeople for Attorney General Linda Kelly didn’t immediately return messages from The Associated Press after the Paterno family released its statement late Monday afternoon.
But when asked about the leaks earlier Monday, Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said: “We do not comment on potential grand jury materials, nor would any such materials be released by this office.”
A spokesman for Freeh declined to comment, as did a Penn State spokesman.
The emails, first reported by NBC several weeks ago, were unearthed during the Freeh team’s investigation, both the university and Freeh team have said, and were turned over to state prosecutors. They are expected to be discussed in Freeh’s report, which is due this summer.
Sandusky was convicted last month of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys. The scandal led to the ousters of school President Graham Spanier and Hall of Fame coach Paterno. Curley and Gary Schultz, a retired school administrator who was in charge of overseeing campus police in 2001, have also been charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to report suspected abuse. They have maintained their innocence.
Spanier has not been charged, and prosecutors have said Paterno was not a target of the investigation.
CNN reported on the content of the emails on Saturday. The emails showed that Curley and Schultz intended to report the allegation, then reconsidered, according to CNN, and that Spanier responded that he was “supportive” of their plan, but he worried they might “become vulnerable for not having reported it.”
The change came after Curley spoke to Paterno, as referenced in Curley’s email to Spanier, according to the report.
Spanier sued Penn State in May to try to get copies of his email traffic from 1998 to 2004, citing the pending investigation being conducted by Freeh. Lawyers for Penn State have asked a judge to throw out the lawsuit and said the attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting Curley and Schultz, had asked them not to provide Spanier with the emails.
The Paterno family does not know the source of the leaks, Sollers said. Paterno himself was known for his abhorrence for using email and cellphones, let alone modern communication tools like Twitter.
“The question that needs to be asked is why this breach of confidentiality … is not being objected to or otherwise addressed by those in a position of authority,” Sollers said. “It should not be the responsibility of the Paterno family to call for an honest, independent investigation. Given the seriousness and complexity of this case, everyone should be demanding the full truth, not just carefully selected excerpts of certain emails.”
Sollers said Paterno didn’t fear the truth and had asked his family and advisers to “pursue the full truth. … It is the course that we will follow to the end.”