In the ensuing 12 months, Paterno died, Sandusky was convicted, a university-commissioned investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded Paterno and three administrators covered up for Sandusky, and prosecutors brought cover-up-related charges against the three administrators.

An email produced in later investigations showed Tim Curley, then the school’s athletic director, asked for an update on the 1998 case because “Coach is anxious to hear w it stands.” Paterno defenders for years maintained “Coach” could have referred to Sandusky, but Curley testified last year he had been referring to Paterno, who was informed of the 1998 case.

After Curley met with Paterno he changed his mind, and suggested a plan that Spanier and Schultz agreed to: Curley barred Sandusky from bringing children to Penn State’s football facilities, and met with Jack Raykovitz, the executive director of the Second Mile, to inform him of the incident.

Outside of Sandusky, t may not be a more reviled person around State College and among Penn State alumni than Freeh, the former FBI director who concluded Paterno and the three administrators covered up the 2001 report to avoid bad publicity, and that a “Culture of reverence for the football program” at Penn State caused others to willfully ignore signs of Sandusky’s abuse.

While Freeh celebrated the verdict in public statements as vindication, alumni pointed out that the conspiracy charges failed to produce convictions, Paterno was never charged with a crime, and the prosecutors who led the Sandusky investigation repeatedly have said they did not believe Paterno participated in any coverup.

Since 2012, Penn State has paid more than $109 million to more than 30 men who have come forward claiming to be Sandusky victims, and some of their claims – made public through a lawsuit between Penn State and its insurance company – produced allegations Paterno ignored victims as far back as the 1970s, and that others at Penn State ignored victims in the 1980s and 1990s.

One Paterno assistant accused of ignoring Sandusky acting improperly with a child didn’t work at Penn State when the alleged incident happened.

Among the most outspoken proponents of this theory is John Ziegler, a former conservative talk show host and documentary filmmaker, who originally started following the Sandusky case with the hopes of creating a film that exonerated Paterno, but came to believe that Sandusky was innocent, as well.