When Penn State's football teams traveled to bowl games, Sue Paterno said, Jerry Sandusky often played in the pool with children -- sometimes her children.
"Do you think we'd let our kids play with someone who might be a pedophile?" Joe Paterno's widow asked. "Obviously, we were all totally unaware."
Speaking publicly about the Jerry Sandusky scandal for the first time, Sue Paterno told Katie Couric that she was "horrified" by his crimes but maintained that her late husband was unaware of the extent. She also said that Joe Paterno wrote a note days before his death that he hoped a positive of the scandal would be increased awareness of child sex abuse.
The Paterno family began a media tour Monday, one day after releasing a series of reports critical of former FBI Director Louis Freeh's report last July. Sue Paterno and three of her children appeared on the Couric's syndicated talk show, and son Jay Paterno did a series of interviews at ESPN.
Sue Paterno said that, had Joe known in 2001 what was uncovered about Sandusky in 2011, he would have done more. "Anyone would have," she said.
Sue Paterno added that she read the November 2011 grand-jury presentment against Sandusky with "horror" and "disbelief," saying it did not correlate with the coach who worked with her husband and founded the children's charity, The Second Mile.
"We really didn't socialize and didn't know that much about him as a person, and it wouldn't have been suspected," Sue Paterno said. "(Sandusky) was always joking and in some ways very child-like."
Former players Aaron Maybin and Greg Buttle appeared on the show. Buttle called Sandusky "the guilty party" and said Joe Paterno was not part of a conspiracy, as suggested by the Freeh Report.
"The conspiracy, to me, was perpetrated by a cabal of (Penn State) trustees and others who felt they needed a convenient way out to relieve Penn State of what had happened," Buttle said. "The Joe I know, that my fellow players knew, if he ever knew Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile, there would have been an issue with it, and we would have taken care of it."
Jay Paterno, a former Penn State football coach, said his family seeks to correct inaccuracies and misconceptions regarding his father, who was fired as Penn State's head coach in 2011.
Jay Paterno's tour of ESPN included interviews on several shows. Specifically, on ESPN's First Take, he made several points:
---Former assistant coach Mike McQueary never told Joe Paterno that he witnessed a boy being "sodomized" by Jerry Sandusky in a Penn State locker-room shower in 2001. McQueary relayed that he saw "something over the line," and the conversation was "very ambiguous," Jay Paterno said.
---Joe Paterno was not informed of a 1998 Penn State police investigation involving Sandusky. The Freeh Report concluded, based on several emails, that Paterno was aware of the investigation and acted with several other former Penn State officials to conceal it.
"There are five men, all of whom testified (at Sandusky's trial) under oath that Joe Paterno was not told," Jay Paterno said. "On top of that, Pennsylvania law at the time had very strict confidentiality laws about investigations of child sexual abuse. Anybody who told Joe Paterno about it would have been breaking the law."
---Jay Paterno said that Sandusky did not attend football practices, nor bring children to them, after his retirement in 1999. He called it a misconception that Sandusky hung around the football program after his coaching career ended.
"Jerry was not at practice; he was not around," Jay Paterno said. "The only time any of us saw Jerry was when he came in at 6 a.m., worked out (in the weight room) and left. There was no omnipresence of Jerry Sandusky with kids around."
Also Monday, Nike co-founder Phil Knight released a statement calling the Freeh Report "unjustified and unsubstantiated" based on the Paterno family's review, which was undertaken by former Pennsylvania governor Richard Thornburgh and attorney Wick Sollers.
Last year, Nike removed Joe Paterno's name from its child-care center following the Freeh Report's release. Knight said then that the report led him to believe that Joe Paterno "made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences."
On Monday, Knight reversed course, saying he released that statement last July without reading the Freeh Report in full.
"I may have unintentionally contributed to a rush to judgment," Knight said.