The legal ramifications of the Paterno family’s report have been deemed insignificant by the attorneys who represent those who said former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky abused them.
The Paterno family released their report on Sunday in response to former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report last July, which has been used by attorneys to claim the university is responsible for their clients abuse. The university has since been in settlement talks with those who say they were abused by Sandusky.
One of the men in settlement talks with the university is “offended” and “frustrated” with the Paterno’s rebuttal against Freeh’s report, attorney Mitchell Garabedian said.
Garabedian represents a man who said he was molested by Sandusky in 1988 when he was 16 years old. The man did not testify during Sandusky’s criminal trial in June.
“My client is outraged that the Paterno family is trying to rewrite history in an inaccurate way,” Garabedian said.
Garabedian said that Freeh’s report was a “thorough investigation in the matter” while the Paterno’s report is “subjective and does not have the evidentiary weight that is necessary to support the Paterno family’s conclusions.”
Tom Kline, who represents the person referred to as “Victim 5,” said via email that the Paterno family has picked a fight with Penn State and Freeh, while the university continues its progress with the claimants in settlement talks.
The Paterno’s efforts represent an “intramural squabble” which “does not advance the ball for the victim’s one yard,” Kline said.
Kline said the Paterno’s report disregards the facts from Freeh’s report, which conclude that Sandusky could have been stopped.
“The Freeh Report is based upon irrefutable documents and facts which show, undeniably, that Mr. Paterno knew in 1998 and again in 2001 that Jerry Sandusky was a threat to youngsters on the Penn State Campus,” Kline said.
Michael Boni, attorney for Aaron Fisher, the person referred to as “Victim 1” in the Sandusky case, said his client, Fisher, does not want to say anything negative about Joe Paterno, even though Fisher “suffered as a direct result of what Joe Paterno and others knew.”
“I think it’s sad,” Boni said. “But I think that Joe said it best and you can’t really undercut it — he wished he did more.”
The Paterno’s report, Boni said, does not completely refute the email evidence referenced in Freeh’s report, which Freeh used to conclude that Paterno knew about the Sandusky investigation in 1998 and the events in 2001.
“I think that the report is woefully deficient in terms of empirical evidence,” Boni said. “It’s really heavy in rhetoric and I don’t think it’s going to convince all that many people.”
Boni said he does not expect Penn State’s negotiators to use the Paterno’s report in their settlement talks. If it is used, their argument will “fall flat” because of the lack of evidence used in the Paterno’s report, Boni said. Boni said the report will not cause him to rethink his strategy moving forward.
Kenneth Feinberg, of Feinberg Rozen LLP, is representing the university in the settlement talks and said he had no comment on the Paterno family’s report.