Harris holds rally to support JoePa

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 26, 2013
More than 250 Penn State alumni braved the icy roads and snowy conditions to attend ''Upon Further Review: Penn State One Year Later'' Friday night at the Radisson Casino Hotel. The intention of the function, hosted by former Penn State running back and NFL Hall of Fame standout Franco Harris, was to question the findings of the Louis Freeh report that was released last July, and to exonerate any culpability of former coach Joe Paterno's role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. ''We want to break down and analyze the facts. That's what this is all about,'' Harris said. ''People clung to the story without questions; even our board of trustees didn't question it. They threw Penn State under the bus. Every act they did said Joe Paterno was guilty. We're trying to find the answers. The purpose of this is to let people see what was put out there was so misleading, and so false, the presentment and the Freeh report. We want answers.'' Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Paterno's funeral. He died Jan. 22, 2012. The function featured a panel discussion, a short documentary that delved into the Sandusky scandal and the media's portrayal of Paterno and Penn State, a forensic timetable that examined former assistant coach Mike McQueary's testimony during the Sandusky trial and a review of how Penn State's administration has handled the matter during the past year. ''The primary objective is to share with the community, not just Penn Staters, more information and to dispel the notion that the Freeh report isn't worth the paper that it's printed on,'' said Anthony Lubrano, a seated member of the Penn State Board of Trustees and one of Paterno's more outspoken supporters. ''Franco is sponsoring this event and I was invited along to be on the panel. I can tell from me, it's about gathering more information. Paterno was fired in November 2011. Freeh, a former FBI director, found that Paterno concealed facts relating to Sandusky's case. ''There was a rush to judgment,'' Lubrano said. ''The Freeh report is the basis for the most severe sanctions ever imposed on an institution. I don't think it's beating a dead horse, as long as there are 600,000 Penn Staters around the country, we won't stop until we have a better sense of the truth. We know that our own didn't handle this very well. There are still questions about Penn State's leadership. We want to keep this thing alive. ''Ultimately for me, the university has to honor Joe Paterno sooner than later. Paterno is persona non grata at Penn State and we want to change that.'' Ray Blehar, a federal government analyst for 27 years, was one of the guest speakers. Blehar maintains there are many holes in the Freeh report, both legally and evidentiary. Blehar maintains the evidence of the report downplayed the failures of Pennsylvania's child-protective services. Gov. Tom Corbett's recent lawsuit against the NCAA aimed at dropping the sanctions against the football program, didn't carry much weight Friday night. ''I understand politicians, and Gov. Corbett was one of the ringleaders in the devastation of Penn State. Now, if he wants a change of heart, I want him to come out all of the way,'' Harris said. ''He wants to keep that $60 million fine in Pennsylvania. That's what that's about. He doesn't want to restore Joe's games and I don't think the NCAA sanctions will hold up. It's a sham and it's all falling apart and momentum is building. ''We still have a long way to go, but we've come a long way in a year.'' Harris will hold another such event on Sunday in Oxon Hill, Md.
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