Politics

Santorum Defends Penn State, Blasts Freeh Report

Former Senator and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum (PA) has long positioned himself as a champion of family values, so one might think he would be the strongest advocate for children who had been sexually assaulted by trusted adults.

But during an appearance on Dallas-Ft. Worth’s KSKY 660 AM on Friday, Santorum a Penn State alum and football fan denied the overwhelming evidence that former Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno, President Graham Spanier, and others intentionally covered up evidence that Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky molested and raped at least 10 boys:

SANTORUM: I actually read the Freeh Report. I don’t know if you did or not, but I did. And, my concern with the Freeh report, a lot of the conclusions in the Freeh report aren’t matched by the evidence that they presented and so I’ve been talking to a lot of folks at Penn State and they say, ‘you’re just gonna have to wait for the criminal trial of these two guys at Penn State.’ I think there is going to be a whole new line set on what really went on there. So I’m sort of sitting back and waiting for the facts to come out as opposed to at least I’m being told is a version of the facts. … Let’s get the truth. So I think we’re going to see some things come up a little different in the next six months. I just want to make sure we get it right.

Listen:

Contra Santorum, the Freeh Report’s central finding — that “nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity” by Penn State’s leaders — has been treated as conclusive by most observers of the scandal. There’s a good reason for that: the report parsed 3.5 million emails and conducted around 430 interviews. A number of emails arrayed in the report’s timeline of events confirm that Paterno, Spanier, and others had been presented with strong evidence of Sandusky’s actions and yet still decided to sweep the events under the rug — enabling multiple instances of abuse to take place. Unless Santorum has reason to believe these were falsified or somehow insufficient, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he’s in denial about what took place at his alma mater.

Indeed, when the abuse scandal broke, Santorum expressed support for Paterno, saying “I have no idea what his side of the story is” and “of course I’ll be rooting for him and wish him the best.” Eight months later, Santorum is still supporting the former coach.