Matthew Furman of Chambersburg, Pa., said he was not surprised Thursday when he heard that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, according to a report, helped cover up child abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago.
“I don’t think that a guy like Paterno, who was so plugged into the program for so many years, could not have known about it,” Furman said. “I don’t see how that’s possible.”
Furman, 35, was among area residents who shared their thoughts Thursday on the report issued by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was hired by Penn State University trustees to look into the child sex abuse scandal that ultimately resulted in Paterno’s firing in November 2011.
Paterno died of complications from lung cancer on Jan. 22.
Furman compared Paterno to Richard Nixon.
“Everyone said (Nixon) had to have known what was going on since he was running the show, and I think it’s the same situation with Paterno,” he said. “If he did indeed do it, I don’t see how he was able to justify it to himself.”
Freeh’s 267-page report was revealed Thursday after an eight-month investigation. According to published reports, it stated that Paterno and other top Penn State officials covered up the allegations.
Hagerstown resident Lewis Wallace, 42, said Paterno’s legacy has been tarnished.
“To have someone with that stature cover this up, if you’re one of the kids, it makes you feel like you can’t trust anybody,” he said. “Any time you do things that hurt kids, it tarnishes your legacy.”
Lauern O’Malley, 24, said that if Paterno did participate in the cover-up then he is just as guilty as Sandusky.
“I’m sure that all of them knew about it,” she said. “As a coach and as a public figure, you need to be honorable and something that other people can look up to and be proud of.”
Martinsburg, W.Va. resident Randy Kesecker, 39, said if Paterno was involved in the cover-up it is a “real shame for humankind.”
“I would like to not think he was, but if the report shows he was then I think it’s a shame,” he said. “I think it taints his legacy big time.”
Kesecker said the football program should not be punished for what happened.
“Not everybody was involved in this,” he said. “There were only a few bad eggs, so I don’t think you should punish the whole football program.”
Cumberland resident James Twigg, 26, said he was not surprised about the report stating Paterno was involved in covering up the scandal.
“When I first heard about this, I figured he covered it up,” he said. “I thought he was involved the whole time.”
Twigg said Paterno had to be aware of the situation because of his position in the program.
“There’s no way you could not know what’s going on,” he said. “Anybody involved should be punished.