HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Legal experts say emails and other evidence from the Penn State sex abuse case suggest that Joe Paterno and other university officials put boys in danger with their failure to report sexual abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago.

The allegations are similar to those made against a top Philadelphia archdiocese official who was convicted on child endangerment charges last month.

Duquesne University law professor Wes Oliver said former FBI Director Louis Freeh's investigative report on the Penn State scandal reads like a prosecution case for a child endangerment charge against Paterno, then-President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz.

Oliver noted that Monsignor William Lynn was convicted for allowing a suspected pedophile priest to be around children. Prosecutors said Lynn helped the Philadelphia archdiocese keep predators in ministry and the public in the dark.

"If you look at what happened here, it's very clear that they were aware that they had a pedophile on their campus," Oliver said.

Will Spade, a former Philadelphia prosecutor who worked on a grand jury investigation of priests about a decade ago, agreed: "Spanier, Paterno, Schultz and Curley are arguably responsible for endangering all of those kids that were abused later."

Freeh's report, released Thursday, also suggests that Paterno may have misled a grand jury when asked when he first heard about Sandusky's misconduct. Paterno died in January of lung cancer at 85.

So far, the only two figures arrested in the alleged cover-up are Curley and Schultz. They were charged last fall with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse and are awaiting trial. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Spanier, who was ousted as Penn State president over the scandal, has not been charged, but a grand jury continues to investigate

Paterno family spokesman Dan McGinn declined to comment on the criminal legal issues on Friday.

At the very least, the Freeh report provides powerful ammunition to Sandusky victims looking to sue the university or Paterno's estate.

The report said that Paterno and the other university officials hushed up child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky in 2001 for fear of bad publicity. Asked on Thursday whether the actions of the four men amounted to a crime such as conspiracy or obstruction, Freeh said that would be for a grand jury to decide. But the former FBI chief and federal judge said the evidence shows "an active agreement to conceal."

Freeh described Paterno as "an integral part" of that agreement. According to his report, Spanier, Schultz and Curley drew up a plan that called for reporting Sandusky to the state Department of Public Welfare in 2001. But Curley later said in an email that he changed his mind "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe."

The report also called into question the truthfulness of Paterno's grand jury testimony last year, when he was asked whether he knew of any abuse allegations against Sandusky before the 2001 episode in which Sandusky was spotted assaulting a boy in the locker room showers.

"I do not know of anything else that Jerry would be involved in of that nature, no," Paterno testified in a grand jury appearance that lasted only a few minutes. He added that a rumor "may have been discussed in my presence, something else about somebody. I don't know. I don't remember, and I could not honestly say I heard a rumor."

But emails published in the Freeh report suggest Paterno closely followed a 1998 police investigation of Sandusky that ended without charges. In an email captioned "Jerry," Curley asked Schultz: "Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands."

Paterno, "were he alive, he would probably be scrutinized right now, as we speak, by a grand jury," said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who represents a young man suing Sandusky, Penn State and Sandusky's charity over claims of sexual abuse. "When he did give testimony, now revealed to have been dubious at best and false on its face, that is illegal perjury because it was given under oath. So he is exposed."

Perjury, though, is rarely charged and is famously difficult to prove at trial. A jury has to find corroborating evidence of the falsehood, and the lie has to be intentional, not a simple misstatement. In Paterno's case, prosecutors would have had to prove that Paterno had not simply forgotten about the 1998 investigation, according to University of Pennsylvania law professor Chris Sanchirico.

When the scandal broke wide open last November, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said Paterno was not an investigative target. On Friday, Kelly spokesman Nils Frederiksen refused to discuss the investigation, citing the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings.

Spanier's lawyers had no comment Friday but have denied he knowingly covered up Sandusky's crimes.

On the civil side, Paterno's role in the scandal could expose his estate to liability, said Altoona lawyer Richard Serbin, who has pursued lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions in Pennsylvania for the past 25 years. Paterno was considerably wealthy; he and his wife donated millions to the university, and in April the school paid millions in retirement benefits to his family and estate.

"When a responsible party passes away, that does not mean to say their wrongful conduct is excused by death," said Serbin, who does not represent any of Sandusky's victims. "Their estate becomes the representative of that person, and assets of their estate ... remain exposed to any verdict or judgment."

___

Dale contributed to this report from Philadelphia.

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  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison, effectively a life sentence, in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, is escorted by police as he leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky Sentencing

    A crush of media and onlookers outside of Center County courthouse for Jerry Sandusky's sentencing.

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison, effectively a life sentence, in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives for sentencing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, arrives for sentencing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys in a scandal that rocked the university and brought down Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives for sentencing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys in a scandal that rocked the university and brought down Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse for a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys in a scandal that rocked the university and brought down Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is escorted by Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau as he is taken into custody at the Centre County Courthouse after being found guilty of multiple charges of child sexual abuse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years on Friday, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, rear, leaves the Centre County Courthouse with a Centre County Sheriff's deputy after being found guilty of multiple charges of child sexual abuse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Outside Courthouse

    The scene outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced.

  • Jerry Sandusky, Dottie Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, rear, and his wife Dottie leave the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012.

  • Dorothy Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's wife Dorothy Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Thursday, June 21, 2012.

  • Gary Schultz

    Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, right, arrives for a hearing at Dauphin County Court, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, in Harrisburg, Pa.

  • Jerry Sandusky, Karl Rominger

    In this courtroom sketch, Karl Rominger, left, attorney for Jerry Sandusky, right, listen as the testimony of Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary is reenacted at the request of the jury during the second day of jury deliberations in Sandusky's child sexual abuse trial at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012.

  • FILE - This Dec. 7, 2011 file booking photo released by the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, Penn. shows former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky.

  • Dottie Sandusky

    In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, Dottie Sandusky, wife of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

  • The Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., is shown Monday, Dec. 12, 2011.

  • Mike McQueary

    In this file photo from Jan. 25, 2012, former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary arrives to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the Penn State campus for the funeral service of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in State College, Pa.

  • Jerry Sandusky

    In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, Jerry Sandusky speaks to the media at the Centre County Courthouse after a bail conditions hearing, in Bellefonte, Pa. Former FBI chief Louis Freeh and his investigators have conducted 200 interviews in their expansive probe into the child sex scandal at Penn State.

  • This March 26, 2012 file photo shows the sign outside the State College, Pa. office of The Second Mile. The charity for troubled youths started by Jerry Sandusky more than three decades ago -- and through which the retired Penn State assistant football coach met the boys he was sexually abusing.

  • Gary Schultz, Tim Curley

    FILE - In these Nov. 7, 2011 file photos, former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, left, and former athletic director Tim Curley, right, enter a district judge's office for an arraignment in Harrisburg, Pa., for their actions related to the sex abuse scandal surrounding former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Despite Sandusky

  • Karl Rominger

    FILE - In this file photo from Dec. 13, 2011, Karl Rominger, an attorney for former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky who is accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period, stands outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Rominger entered his formal appearance on Sandusky's behalf in April 2012, but had previously been assisting with the defense. Despite Sandusky

  • Sue Paterno

    FILE - In this file photo from Jan. 26, 2012, Sue Paterno, wife of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, enters a memorial service at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. A capacity crowd of more than 12,000 packed the arena for one more tribute to Paterno, the Hall of Fame football coach who died from lung cancer.

  • Jerry Sandusky

    FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach charged with sexually abusing boys, speaks to the media at the Centre County Courthouse after a bail conditions hearing in Bellefonte, Pa. Alleged victims of Sandusky will not be allowed to avoid disclosure of their names by testifying under pseudonyms, and tweets or other electronic communications by reporters will not be permitted during the trial, the judge ruled Monday, June 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

  • Television satellite trucks set up outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 4, 2012, in preparation for the start of the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Joe Paterno

    FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2006 file photo, then Penn State coach Joe Paterno watches the college football game against Youngstown State in State College, Pa. Paterno, the Penn State football coach since 1966, was told by an assistant coach that he saw former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in a shower on the Penn State campus and Paterno in turn, told Penn State officials. The Penn State Board of Trustees ousted him on Nov. 6, 201 for what was called his

  • Tom Corbett

    FILE - In this March 8, 2011 file photo, Gov. Tom Corbett addresses a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, Pa. Corbett was the attorney general when the investigation into former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was launched by state prosecutors. Sandusky is accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period. Corbett also serves as a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, although he did not actively participate until after Sandusky was charged in December. Despite Sandusky

  • Joe Amendola

    FILE - In this file photo from Dec. 13, 2011, Joe Amendola, attorney for former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky who is accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period, talks with media outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Amendola has been second-guessed for allowing Sandusky to go on network television and speak at length with a reporter for The New York Times after his arrest. Despite Sandusky

  • Mike McQueary

    File-This Sept. 12, 2009 file photo shows Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary walking the sideline during the second half of their college football game against Syracuse in State College, Pa. McQueary, whose report of Jerry Sandusky allegedly attacking a child in the showers led to Joe Paterno's firing said in a court filing Tuesday May 8, 2012 that he is suing the school. The "writ of summons" filed by McQueary's lawyer described it as a whistle-blower case, but the brief document was not accompanied by a full complaint that would lay out the allegations. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,File)

  • Jerry Sandusky, Joe Amendola

    FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center left, walks with his attorney Joe Amendola, center right, as he leaves the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Of all the boys Sandusky is accused of molesting, none has been the focus of more outrage than the one known as Victim 2 _ the boy allegedly abused in a locker room shower, the case that ended Joe Paterno's career and the issue that spawned criminal charges against two school officials. Prosecutors say they don't know one important fact about him: his identity. The prospect that a victim in a sex abuse case is unknown presents a challenge for prosecutors; another potential complication is that Sandusky believes he knows the alleged victim _ and says he could help exonerate him. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

  • People display shirts asking the board to resign before a meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Friday, March 16, 2012 in Hershey, Pa. The trustees are meeting in Hershey to discuss potential changes to the board amid criticism over its handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Joe Paterno

    FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno arrives home, in State College, Pa. Penn State's trustees say late coach Joe Paterno's failure to follow up on a sexual abuse allegation against former assistant Jerry Sandusky "constituted a failure of leadership" that ultimately led to his firing in November. A report issued Monday, March 12, 2012, by the trustees says the board ultimately decided to fire Paterno after learning the details of his testimony before a grand jury when charges were filed against Sandusky. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

  • Mike McQueary

    Former Penn State assistant football caoch Mike McQueary, left, arrives to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the Penn State campus for the funeral service of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in State College, Pa., Wednesday Jan. 25, 2012. As a graduate assistant to Paterno in 2002, McQueary went to the coach saying he had witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky assaulting a boy in the shower at the Penn State football building. Paterno died Sunday at the age of 85. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

  • Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky

    <em>CORRECTION: Jerry Sandusky's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this slideshow. </em>

  • Jerry Sandusky, Dottie Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, right center, arrives with his wife Dottie, left center, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse Friday, June 22, 2012, after being found guilty in his sexual abuse trial, in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years Friday, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)

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  • W. Jeffrey Paulish

    Paulish, a Catholic priest, was charged with molesting a 15-year-old boy after police say he was "caught in the act." The 56-year-old priest was found in a car with the pantless boy on the campus of Penn State University. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/22/w-jeffrey-paulish-caught-with-pantless-15-year-old_n_3971522.html" target="_blank">Read more</a>

  • Rev. Robert Van Handel

    FILE - This undated file image provided by State of California Department of Justice shows former priest and convicted sex offender, Robert Van Handel, who was molested as a student at St Anthony's seminary school and then returned there as a priest where he molested boys in the choir. (AP Photo/California Department of Justice, File)

  • Monsignor William Lynn

    FILE - In a Tuesday, March 27, 2012 file photo, Monsignor William Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center, in Philadelphia. Lynn, accused of moving predator-priests to unwitting parishes, testified Wednesday, May 23, 2012 that he had no authority to make priest transfers. Lynn says he could only remove a priest who admitted abusing a minor. Lynn says he otherwise made recommendations for the cardinal. Lynn is testifying in the ninth week of his child-endangerment and conspiracy trial. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

  • Rev. James Brennan

    The Rev. James Brennan allegedly molested a 14-year-old boy in 1996. The accuser testified in court that the sexual abuse led to drug addition, mental illness, crime and suicide attempts.

  • Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua

    The late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to destroy a list with the names of priests accused of sexual abuse, according to church documents revealed during the trial of Philadelphia's Monsignor William Lynn.

  • Ex-Priest John Fiala

    This Nov. 18, 2010 photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff's Department shows John Fiala. Fiala, a former Roman Catholic priest charged with sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2008 in his rural Texas parish is now accused of plotting the alleged victim's murder, authorities said. Fiala was found guilty of the plot in May of 2012. (AP Photo/Dallas County Sheriff's Department)