THE PATERNO FAMILY has offered its rebuttal, all legal-looking and footnoted and serious.
It identifies some flaws in the investigation commissioned by Penn State and carried out by Louis Freeh, and it attempts to invent some others. There are no new facts here, only new arguments. The result is uneven and unpersuasive.
The circumstances have always been complicated, but the defining issue has been relatively simple. We can argue about what Paterno and the rest did in 2001 when confronted with the allegation that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky showered with a boy in a university locker room. We can argue about what assistant coach Mike McQueary told Paterno, and what Paterno told athletic director Tim Curley, and what was subsequently told to university vice president Gary Schultz and president Graham Spanier.
We can recognize the mistakes that were made and label them as such - human mistakes - but only if there was no prior knowledge about Sandusky. That is, we can paint Paterno as an out-of-touch old man in 2001, and nothing worse, only if he did not know about the first allegation that the university and the local district attorney's office investigated in 1998.
The key is 1998. The key has always been 1998. A jury has since found Sandusky guilty of assaulting a boy in a university shower on May 3 of that year. The boy's mother, suspicious about his wet hair when he came home after being with Sandusky, began the process that resulted in an investigation. By May 5, Schultz's hand-written notes confirmed he was aware of the investigation. This is when the first of the emails was unearthed.