Holden & Danny: Sports Illustrated Legal Analyst Pokes Holes In Freeh Report
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A day after a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh was released, Holden and Danny were joined by legal analyst and columnist for SportsIllustrated.com Michael McCann to discuss the fallout from the Penn State investigation.
The 267-page report transpired from an eight month internal investigation into how Pennsylvania State University employees responded to former coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual child abuse.
According to the report, “In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the University — Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the University’s Board of Trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at large. The avoidance of the consequences of bad publicity is the most significant, but not the only, cause for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities.”
However, an article by McCann for SportsIllustrated.com published July 12 says that the investigation was limited and the report has potential biases, as any internal investigation.
“.. Any internal investigation should be viewed with caution. The Freeh Report on Penn State is not necessarily the whole story,” according to the article. “The report makes damning and sweeping accusations against Paterno, as well as of Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, former vice president Gary Schultz and former president Graham Spanier … The four are portrayed as manipulating administrative channels to protect Sandusky, the football program and their own reputations.”
Holden started off the interview by asking why the report even needs to be questioned.
“There’s some reasons in terms of how internal investigations work. There’s no subpoena power, so that limits internal investigators in terms of the kinds of documents and information they can obtain, which means what they obtain may not be the whole story,” McCann said. “The other aspect that’s worth noting is that when people talk to internal investigators they’re not under oath, and they can lie … there’s no risk of perjury, there’s no risk of being charged with lying to government officials. So that makes the believability of witnesses a little bit less so in terms of internal investigations.”
Danny then asked if Jay Paterno, former offensive coordinator and son of Joe Paterno, is building a
“legal shell or bubble so that it can’t be penetrated later on with lawsuits.”
McCann said the Paterno family could sue Penn State and Louis Freeh for defamation, but it is difficult to file a lawsuit on behalf of someone who is deceased, referring to Joe Paterno, and on behalf of an estate as opposed to a person.
“Legally, I think it’s going to be really hard for the Paterno family to do anything,” McCann said.
During an interview Thursday on ESPN, Jay Paterno called the report “basically an opinion” and “not a legal document,” stating that Freeh came to “reasonable conclusions” in the absence of facts and used the “same facts we’ve had” to come to a “different interpretation.”
Danny asked if the incident in 1998 – involving allegations of an 11-year-old boy showering alone with Sandusky on the Penn State campus – will be revisited now after the report.
“You gotta wonder what exactly happened there. There was a decent amount of evidence to move forward with charges; District Attorney Ray Gricar didn’t and then later on completely disappeared … Obviously, we don’t want to be conspiracy theorists, but if you start connecting things you gotta wonder why did that happen, and [did] any part of this Penn State cover-up play a role in the decision not to prosecute Sandusky. Given the level of corruption, you have to wonder.”
Danny then asked, legally speaking, what Penn State could face in the future.
McCann said Penn State could face lawsuits brought by victims of Sandusky, which he said they would have a decent argument that the school was negligent in protecting the at-the-time children. He also said the Department of Education could punish the school for failing to report the information.
Danny wrapped up the interview continuing to look into the future by asking if there is still more to come with a federal investigation.
“Some of these alleged crimes cross state lines, and as a result, it gets the federal government involved. There are a number of ways in which the federal government could claim to have a stake in the matter and the federal government is investigating,” McCann said. “I don’t know if we’re going to see anything, I have a feeling that won’t lead to additional charges, but clearly the story is not finished as of now.”