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Sue Paterno: Freeh report 'totally devastated' me

  • Sue Paterno speaks out for the first time since the Penn State scandal and Joe Paterno's death
  • The Paterno family has commissioned their own investigation of Paterno's role in the scandal
Sue Paterno says the Penn State-commissioned Freeh report didn't accurately portray who her husband was.

Sue Paterno, the widow of embattled Penn State legend Joe Paterno, has broken her silence.

Paterno sat down with ABC's Katie Couric on Monday to share her thoughts on her husband's involvement in the Penn State scandal and speak out against damning evidence presented in the incendiary Freeh Report.

Sue Paterno told Couric the Freeh report (named after former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who spearheaded the review) didn't accurately portray who her husband was, and her family's report attempts to set the record straight. "As [Louis Freeh] went through his report, he did not know Joe. This wasn't the man I knew," she said. "I was totally devastated. For someone who knew somebody for 54 years, I knew him better. And he was what he was. What you saw was what you got."

READ MORE: Freeh report alleges 'total disregard'

Paterno also said she and her husband did not socialize with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, and as far as they knew, he was just a friendly guy who liked children.

Sandusky was convicted last June on 45 of 48 counts related to child abuse. 

"I wouldn't have suspected anything. He was always joking, and in some ways, childlike," Paterno said. The family would sometimes observe Sandusky playing with their own children in a pool and thought nothing of it, she said.

"Do you think we would let our kids play with someone who might be a pedophile?" she said. "Obviously, we were all totally unaware."

Paterno has not spoken publicly about the scandal since her husband died last year. Recently, the Paterno family commissioned a counter-report that criticizes the Penn State-commissioned Freeh report.

The initial review was conducted by Freeh, and determined that, at the time Sandusky was allegedly molesting young boys, Penn State officials, including Paterno, displayed a "callous and shocking disregard for child victims."

The Paterno family's review alleges the "deeply flawed" Freeh report was lacking substantive research and relied heavily on speculation and anonymous sources. Sue Paterno and her children maintain that Joe Paterno was largely unaware of the situation involving Sandusky until it was brought to light in November 2011.

However, a major question posed by the Freeh report was whether Joe Paterno was aware of the first investigation of improper conduct involving Sandusky in 1998. Sue Paterno told Couric she wasn't sure how much her husband knew. "I don't even know for sure if he knew, I don't know if he was told," she said. "He did not remember the incident in 2011 some 13 years later."

When evidence came out and the case against Sandusky began to take root, Paterno says her family was blindsided with guilt and regret, but felt as if there was nothing they could have done. "Why didn't we see something? We started to blame ourselves as you are want to do," she said.

"With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more," she continued. "Hindsight came with what we learned later. If [Joe]  knew in 2001, what he knew in 2011, then he would have done more."

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