Ex-Penn State President Faces New Charges in Sandusky Case

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier

Pennsylvania will prosecute former Penn State President Graham Spanier on charges that he helped cover up sex abuse charges against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the state attorney general announced. She also announced new charges against two Spanier deputies.

“This case is about three powerful and influential men who held positions at the very top of one the most prestigious universities in the nation, three men who used their positions at Penn State to conceal and cover up for years activities of a known child predator,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly at a Harrisburg press conference on Nov. 1.

The state charged Spanier with one count of perjury, two counts of endangering the welfare of children and two counts of criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

He is also being charged with one count each of obstruction and conspiracy, punishable by up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines. A final charge of failure to report suspected child abuse is punishable by 90 days imprisonment and a $300 fine.

Two of Spanier’s deputies, Timothy Curley and Gary Schultz, will face charges of obstruction, endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy. The two are already awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse.

Spanier was removed as university president in Nov. 2011, just after sex abuse charges were announced against Sandusky. The ex-president has been on sabbatical from his ongoing tenured professorship, according to a university statement, and will be placed on leave from that immediately.

Schultz is the retired Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. Curley is Penn State Athletic Director, though he was placed on administrative leave last year as well. According to the university, he is on a fixed-term contract that will not be renewed when it expires on June 30, 2013.

All three men, as far back as 1998, knew about one sexual assault complaint and in 2001 learned of another, Kelly charged. She said emails, notes and a bill from a lawyer prove the three were discussing the assaults.

All three “repeatedly obstructed attempts by law enforcement and investigators to gather evidence about Sandusky assaults which had occurred on campus,” Kelly said. A 2010 grand jury subpoenaed documents that the university did not turn over until April 2012, “after these men had left their jobs,” she added.

In a videotaped statement, Spanier’s attorney, Tim Lewis, said the charges are “a politically-motivated frame-up of an innocent man.”  Lewis said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is known to be personally hostile to Spanier, accusing the governor of using public resources to pursue a personal grudge. Lewis also attempted to pin cover-up charges onto the governor.  He said Corbett, as attorney general until 2011, knew about the allegations.

“Today’s presentment is the latest desperate act by Governor Tom Corbett to cover up and divert attention away from the fact that he failed to warn [the] Penn State Community about the suspicion surrounding Jerry Sandusky, and instead allowed a child predator to roam free in Pennsylvania.”

Lewis said Kelly and her staff have refused for a year to meet with Spanier or his lawyers; or to allow him another chance in front of the grand jury to “clarify” his testimony.

Lewis said that a 1998 investigation exonerated his client Spanier, and that the 2001 incident was characterized to the president as “horseplay.”

Penn State declined any further comment.

In a related development, the Penn State Board of Trustees on Oct. 26 voted unanimously to create a subcommittee empowered to approve possible settlements with Sandusky’s victims.

Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

Photo by John Tecce via Facebook

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Maggie Lee

Freelance journalist Maggie Lee is based in Atlanta where she covers state and local governments.