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Penn State sexual abuse documentarian John Ziegler on D&C: ‘I don’t believe that Joe Paterno had any knowledge of the 1998 investigation’

03.26.13 at 1:21 pm ET

Documentary writer and director John Ziegler checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to discuss his recent three-plus-hour conversation with Jerry Sandusky at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute.

Ziegler made multiple visits to Sandusky and came to the conclusion that if it was not for a certain New York Jets losing streak from nearly 15 years ago, the Penn State scandal may have never come out.

Said Ziegler: “I’ve concluded, that after my three and a half hours with Jerry Sandusky, that if the New York Jets had not lost their last three games in the 2000 season, there would be no Penn State scandal … If Al Groh doesn’t decide at the last second — he was coaching the Jets at that time — that because they lost the last three games to miss the playoffs, Jerry Sandusky was about to sign on the dotted line to be the head football coach at Virginia in December of 2000. I’m totally convinced that there’s corroborating evidence for that, but Jerry and I talked about this extensively. Apparently during his last interview, the interviewer gets called out of the room, Al Groh calls, that’s his alma mater, Virginia, he’s on the search committee for that job, and tells them, ‘Hey look, I think I’m out of the Jets, I want the job.’ All of a sudden the guy comes back, is cold to Sandusky and Sandusky’s wondering what the heck’s going on. The next day Al Groh gets the job; five weeks later is the [Mike] McQueary episode.”

Ziegler, whose documentary “Framing Paterno” was recently released, also discussed what he thought Paterno really knew and, more importantly, didn’t know regarding the investigations into Sandusky’s actions in the late 1990s.

“People are misunderstanding what the most important conversation in this entire situation was,” Ziegler said, adding: “The key conversation was actually when the athletic director went to Sandusky and said, ‘OK, what was this all about? We have this report that you did something inappropriate with a kid in the shower.’ That’s where the information that I’ve been able to [get] from this interview is critical, because I have the actual statement from the boy in the shower, made ironically on the day [Joe] Paterno was fired, as a 24-year-old married sergeant in the marine corps, proactively coming forward with his mother with him, to say, ‘Look, I’m the boy in the shower, McQueary is lying. Nothing happened.’ ”

The goal of, Ziegler said, is to expose the truth, and in Ziegler’s interview with Dennis & Callahan, he seemed to vehemently defend Paterno.

“As we all know, a false claim of being a child molester carries with it an incredible stain that no one can possibly overcome, which by the way is illegal, flat illegal for Joe Paterno  to be in the loop on the 1998 investigation where Jerry Sandusky was not charged,” Ziegler said. “So, I don’t believe that Joe Paterno had any knowledge of the 1998 investigation.”

Ziegler also said that his goal is not simply to defend the reputation of the late Joe Paterno, but more to figure out the entire truth.

“Joe Paterno’s dying wish was, ‘Let’s just find out what happened,’ ” Ziegler said, adding: “As far as the ‘framing’ word on our website, we mean that figuratively, not literally. This is not a conspiracy, this is everybody working in their own perceived self interest in a way that ends up essentially, effectively framing Joe Paterno, and thus the website,”

To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Read More: Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, John Ziegler,