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Penn State president 'appalled' by media frenzy over Joe Paterno

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State president Eric Barron said in an open letter Sunday morning that he was "appalled" by the recent "rush to judgment" on Joe Paterno, whom recent reports allege knew about the abuse of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky as far back as the 1970s.

The letter, which was published on the university's official website, said that Penn State had no evidence that an early sexual assault was ever communicated to Paterno. Barron also wrote that the accusations are not established fact and, as such, should not be treated that way.

"I want you to know I am appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment that have accompanied the media stories surrounding these allegations," he wrote. "All too often in our society, people are convicted in the court of public opinion, only to find a different outcome when all the facts are presented. "

On Thursday, in a written opinion on Penn State's ongoing insurance case, Judge Gary Glazer alluded to a deposition which claimed a child allegedly reported to Paterno in 1976 that he was molested by Sandusky. On Friday, both CNN and NBC published separate stories on the matter -- with CNN speaking to an alleged victim from 1971, who claimed he informed Paterno of abuse, and NBC reporting that as many as six Penn State coaches witnessed abuse dating back to the 1970s.

Barron did not specifically name either organization. But he alluded to the NBC report and refuted the findings by saying the report came "even if the face of a denial and clear failure to corroborate from the individuals allegedly involved."

He criticized the media throughout the 445-word letter. And, in his closing, he once again referred the accusations as a "rush to judgment."

"Unfortunately, we can't control the 24/7 news cycle, and the tendency of some individuals in social media and the blogosphere to rush to judgment," he wrote. "But I have had enough of the continued trial of the institution in various media. We have all had enough.

"And while Penn State cannot always comment on allegations that emanate from legal proceedings, I thought it was important to let you know my reaction to the media frenzy that has ensued over the past few days. I am appalled."

Sandusky is serving a lengthy prison sentence for his conviction in the sexual abuse of 10 children. The university has also paid out more than $90 million to settle 32 civil claims involving Sandusky.

Paterno was not charged with any crime, and his family is pursuing a lawsuit against the NCAA for commercial disparagement. Three university officials still await trial on criminal charges for their handling of the Sandusky scandal.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.