By The Springfield News-Leader

Springfield, MO - Springfield area state Rep. Sara Lampe has harshly condemned comments from University of Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel about the late Joe Paterno.

Paterno was the longtime head football coach at Penn State University. He died Jan. 22 from complications related treatments for cancer.

Recently, a report prepared by Louis Freeh, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, found that Paterno had concealed reports of sexual abuse by a long time assistant coach.

Pinkel called Paterno a "great man" during a media event for the Southeastern Conference in Hoover, Ala., on Tuesday.

"Joe Paterno's a friend that I got to know professionally, and you can't take away the greatness of this man," Pinkel told reporters during the event. "He was a great man. However you analyze this, you can't erase all that this guy's done. You can't do that. Nobody can do that."

Lampe said in her statement that while Paterno was a good coach, he "failed at what really mattered - protecting children from a sexual predator."

Lampe is running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Her complete statement follows below:

"University of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel on Tuesday called the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno a 'great football coach' and a 'great man.' Paterno may have been a great coach, but as a man he failed at what mattered - protecting children from a sexual predator.

"As the exhaustive investigation into the Penn State scandal by former FBI Director Louis Freeh proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to all but the most sycophantic of Paterno worshipers, Coach Paterno protected and covered up for a serial child rapist and in doing so enabled him to keep raping children for another decade. A great man never would have done such a foul thing. That a great football coach did should be disturbing to everyone.

"Coach Pinkel's defense of the indefensible indicates that he holds the same attitude that allowed the reprehensible situation at Penn State to occur; the attitude that building a successful football program is more important than everything else, including protecting innocent children from rapists."

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