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For the past fourteen months I have refrained from commenting publicly about the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the related actions by the Board of Trustees, Louis Freeh, the President of Penn State and the NCAA. There have been many times, of course, when I wanted to speak out, but I needed time to deal with the loss of Joe and I believed also that this was a situation that demanded careful, thoughtful, objective analysis. The last thing Joe would have wanted is for me to become just one more voice making claims and assertions that were unsupported by the facts.
The crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky are heartbreaking. As a mother of 5 and grandmother of 17, it is incomprehensible to me that anyone could intentionally harm a child. I think of the victims daily and I pray that God will heal their wounds and comfort their souls.
As this story unfolded, Joe and I believed strongly that the first priority must be to uncover the full truth. Despite the Board of Trustees' rash and irresponsible decision to fire Joe without ever speaking with him, we remained hopeful that the investigation they initiated with Mr. Freeh, along with simultaneous investigations by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Second Mile and other entities, would produce a clear and comprehensive record of what transpired. We also hoped that these investigations would result in an actionable set of lessons that other institutions could use to help prevent similar tragedies from unfolding. Sadly, neither outcome has developed.
When the Freeh report was released last July, I was as shocked as anyone by the findings and by Mr. Freeh's extraordinary attack on Joe's character and integrity. I did not recognize the man Mr. Freeh described. I am here to tell you as definitively and forcefully as I know how that Mr. Freeh could not have been more wrong in his assessment of Joe. I knew Joe Paterno as well as one human being can know another. Joe was exactly the moral, disciplined and demanding man you knew him to be. Over the years I watched as he struggled with countless personal and professional challenges. Never - not once - did I see him compromise his principles or twist the truth to avoid bad publicity or protect his reputation. Joe was tough, sometimes difficult, always opinionated and extremely demanding. He was also scrupulously honest, rigidly moral and absolutely unafraid of the consequences of doing the right thing.
After the Freeh report was released I knew immediately that the situation demanded further review. Unfortunately, the Board's response was to panic again. They embraced the report without reviewing it. They never met with Mr. Freeh or his investigators. They asked no questions and challenged no assertions. Although they never officially voted to accept the report, they endorsed its findings and allowed the NCAA to impose unprecedented sanctions. To claim that this ill-considered and rash process served the victims and the university is a grave error. Only the truth serves the victims. Only the truth can help prevent this sort of crime from occurring again.
Although it was not something I ever imagined doing, I directed my lawyer, Wick Sollers, of the King & Spalding firm in Washington DC, to undertake a review of the Freeh report and Joe's actions. I told him to engage the best, most respected experts, to take whatever time he needed and to go wherever the facts led. Sunday morning at 9am we are releasing the full Report by Wick and his team of experts. The report and additional information will be available at Paterno.com.
I will not attempt in this letter to summarize the Report of the experts except to say that they unreservedly and forcefully confirm my beliefs about Joe's conduct. In addition, they present a passionate and persuasive critique of the Freeh report as a total disservice to the victims of Sandusky and the cause of preventing child sex offenses. I hope you can take the time to review the report and share it with friends and family.
In closing, I want to address two issues that have come up frequently over the last year. First, some critics say it is no longer appropriate for me or my family to comment further on this case and that the Freeh report and the actions of the NCAA should close the book on the Sandusky scandal. This cannot
happen. The Freeh report failed and if it is not challenged and corrected, nothing worthwhile will have come from these tragic events.
Second, there has been endless speculation about what my family and I ultimately want to achieve. Is it the return of the statue? The restoration of Joe's wins? His name on the football stadium? On this point I also want to be clear. Joe Paterno's legacy wasn't a statue, a winning record or public adulation. He was grateful for the many accolades he received but he never believed they defined his life. His legacy is his family and you his players. How you live your life speaks louder than any report. The great fathers, husbands and citizens you have become fulfill the dreams Joe had. All that we want - and what I believe we owe the victims, Joe Paterno and everyone who cares about Penn State - is the full record of what happened. On this point, I know the advice Joe would give. Don't give up. Don't be afraid. Do the right thing. And make sure your actions serve the greater good. This is the path I will continue to follow.
I thank you for your support and kindness. My heart and home will always be open to you.
Just read this on Michael's site. This line stood out to me:
"I will not attempt in this letter to summarize the Report of the experts except to say that they unreservedly and forcefully confirm my beliefs about Joe's conduct."
I'm curious to see what they have to say and if it's as powerful as she makes it out to be here. Stay tuned for Sunday folks.
Sue's strength through all of this has amazed me. If I can become become half the person Sue Paterno is, I'll be extremely satisfied.
"A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep"- Glenn Carson
"You can take bowl games and you can take external things from people, but you can't take a warrior's heart."
Sue Paterno can flat-out write.
Follow me on Twitter @jeffrice247 firstname.lastname@example.org
Perfect letter. Flawless.
Take notes Jeff
Well, she has had a few more years to hone her craft than I have ...
I choked up a bit. It was measured, balanced, yet poignant and forceful.
Her pain and strength come through clearly.
Thanks to Sue Paterno for the courage to stand up and Mike Robinson for posting it.
Awesome... Looks like we have our new most UPVOTES thread champion in the making with this one...
I thought the same thing. Should be the highest upvote in the history of the board.
Cautiously optimistic that at least some of the media outlets will run with this and not just dismiss it without reading it...
What a great match...Joe and Sue
Suck It Emmert!! and "Sorry for not being sorry for being a Penn Stater" - Philafan
Beautiful letter, wonderful woman. Thanks Sue
"We want the warriors"
Well done Sue.
I don't think that could have been written any better. Love it.
You give the media far too much credit..
Success isn't something that just happens - success is learned, success is practiced and then it is shared.
-- Sparky Anderson
I will say that I am at least pleased that the letter has gotten coverage everywhere so far, with a general lack of obvious condemnation. That makes me thing that the report and SuePa's appearance on Katie Couric on Monday will get broad coverage.
Sue Paterno is a class act! She'll have to dummy it down some since it is above Emmert's grade level in reading!
“We need to keep this (expletive) together,” Mauti and Zordich to Hill
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