Home / World News / Six years later, Penn State is still at war over the Jerry Sandusky scandal – The Denver Post

Six years later, Penn State is still at war over the Jerry Sandusky scandal – The Denver Post

In July, Penn State’s board of trustees met to discuss the most important issues facing a school system with 99,000 students and a $5.7 billion budget. It took about three hours before someone brought up Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno.

As the chairman tried to end the meeting, a hand rose from the back of the room. The chairman’s smile faded as he acknowledged an alumni-elected trustee.

Anthony Lubrano, a 57-year-old wealth management executive, launched into a lengthy statement assailing the board and administration. Lubrano’s criticism, as always, focused on the Freeh Report, the NCAA and the Penn State administration’s efforts to distance the university from the iconic coach.

“Hundreds of thousands of alumni who care about our past and our future have been deceived and, in the process, disenfranchised,” Lubrano said. “We will never heal without truth and reconciliation.”

While some of the nine alumni-elected trustees nodded their heads in agreement, some of the remaining 29 trustees rolled their eyes or shook their heads in frustration. Some walked out. When Lubrano finished, the room was half-empty.

Six years after the Sandusky scandal rocked Penn State, university leadership is still fighting a civil war over the case, a conflict fueled, in part, by weaknesses that have developed in investigations that concluded top Penn State officials covered up for the convicted child molester.

While new evidence has not altered the public perception of Paterno’s culpability for Sandusky’s crimes, it has become fodder for conspiracy theories that have influenced state elections and incited feuds among Penn State trustees, some of whom hold deep suspicions about colleagues who quickly agreed to measures intended to end the crisis as quickly as possible.

Law enforcement officials, victims’ lawyers and private investigators — including Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who authored a damning 2012 report that asserted Paterno’s involvement in a coverup — say the dispute results from stubborn “Paterno-deniers,” “Joebots” and “truthers,” for whom no evidence will be strong enough to condemn the beloved former football coach.

“The tragedy of all of this is that it is self-perpetuated and self-inflicted,” said Tom Kline, an attorney for one victim. “They have settled on an endless assault on anyone who dares suggest that there was something that happened that was wrong and that the fault lies at the doorstep of either Paterno or the football program.”

But alumni trustees and supporters insist Paterno and the school were victims of a rush to judgment that spared other, more culpable organizations — most notably the Second Mile, Sandusky’s charity for at-risk children — from public scorn. They point to conflicting accounts of the assault at the core of the coverup case, evidence the NCAA may have influenced Freeh’s report and doubts about claims Paterno ignored assaults as far back as the 1970s.

“The board has tried to cast us as a kook fringe. … We’re not a bunch of kooks. We’re not Joebots. We just see it for what it is,” said Christian Marrone, a 1997 alum who has served as a senior presidential appointee in both the Bush and Obama administrations. “It’s a complex, complicated, emotional situation … and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.”

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