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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

Boy Scout Confidential Files Reveal Patterns of Abuse

At the law offices of Gordon, Thomas and Honeywell in downtown Seattle, an entire wall was devoted to files of Boy Scout volunteers who have been kicked out since the 1940s. Paralegal Bob McFadden replaces one of the file boxes. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has come under fire as its “Confidential Files” – a blacklist of adults banned from scouting for sexual abuse or molestation -- have come to light. The files, submitted as evidence in lawsuits under court order, show the BSA banned about 5,000 people from 1947 through 2004.

Sexual abuse scandals within other youth-service oriented programs show similar patterns of behavior, including workers dismissing victims, hiding abuse from the public, putting too much faith in adult colleagues and organizations failing to educate staff about abuse.

As the problem becomes more public because of scandals such as the Penn State and Catholic Church child sexual-abuse scandals, it has become more apparent that these patterns of behavior are similar among those who mishandle the problem. For the full story via Youth Today, click here.

Sandusky-founded Kid’s Charity Postpones Its Transfer to Houston Nonprofit

The Second Mile, the charity organization founded by Jerry Sandusky – the former Penn State coach convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse in June – announced Monday it is postponing plans to transfer its programs and assets to a Houston-based nonprofit.

Earlier this summer, The Second Mile requested that it be allowed to transfer its programs and assets, totaling nearly $2 million, to Arrow Child & Family Ministries, Inc. However, The Second Mile Chief Executive, David Woodle, said the deal is suspended until all ongoing damage claims filed by the lawyers of Sandusky’s victims are resolved.

Monday, Woodle announced that his organization - in agreement with Pennsylvania attorney general and lawyers representing four youth victimized by Sandusky - has requested that the Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Center County stay a previous Petition for Distribution of Assets filed by the nonprofit.

“Both The Second Mile and Arrow feel that staying the Petition at this time will better serve all involved as it limits further stress on the victims and avoids unnecessary litigation costs,” Woodle is quoted in an official statement released by the nonprofit.

The organization was founded in 1977 by Sandusky. Woodle said the organization would continue operations, using cash reserves.

The Moral Obligation to Report The Sexual Abuse of Children

Dr. Rebecca PetersenIn the wake of the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal, many people are asking why it has taken so long for the public to hear about this.

People also are asking why it was not reported to authorities, mainly the police, earlier.

One question, especially, comes to the surface. In 2002, then graduate assistant football coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed a sexual assault against a 10-year-old boy in the locker room shower by Jerry Sandusky, the man accused of molesting eight boys over the course of 15 years. In grand jury testimony McQueary said he spoke to his father and then head football coach Joe Paterno about the incident. In recent days, however, he has asserted in an email that he also contacted the police. Right now, at least, it is not clear if he reported it to law enforcement.

However, this episode is a forceful reminder that one should be mindful of who has the moral, ethical and/or legal obligation to report child abuse to authorities. Each state and the District of Columbia has statutes identifying mandatory reporters of child abuse (such as, physicians, medical and child welfare personnel, nurses, licensed psychologists, professional counselors, and school teachers and administrators) and the circumstances under which they are required to make a report and to a certain extent, the consequences for failing to report.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families, failure to report child abuse by those mandated to do so is a misdemeanor in 39 states. It is a felony in three states. Most states, however, do not specify penalties associated with failing to report. Eighteen states require any person who witnesses child abuse to report it while many states specify this for only certain professionals, such as some of the ones mentioned above. HHS also finds that 17 states require reporting specifically to law enforcement.

So, only certain people have the legal obligation to report abuse or suspected abuse, and it is not clear if those required to report instances of abuse are mandated to report it to law enforcement. Such inconsistencies and lack of clarity create confusion about mandatory reporting.

On Sunday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett stated that new laws are needed to ensure reports of child sexual abuse are made to the proper government authorities, that is, the police or a state’s child protective agency. Similarly, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez from (D-N.J.) announced Tuesday plans to introduce the Child Abuse Reporting Enforcement (CARE) Act. This would require states to mandate the reporting of child abuse to law enforcement and/or child protective services in order to receive federal social services funding, and to make it a felony for any individual who fails to report such abuse. The senator’s bill also would specify that all witnesses report abuse to the law enforcement authorities and child protective services.

We can assume that states will follow suit as this is currently at the forefront of America’s consciousness and their appears to be limited uniformity and consistency of laws governing child abuse reporting, even for those not legally mandated to report abuse.

Many people are afraid to “get involved” in people’s business, especially regarding family issues. They are afraid of conflict or retaliation, especially if the case was investigated and the abuse was unfounded. This is understandable, absolutely. However, didn’t that person do his/her part by reporting it to the police or social service agency?

I thought we were all fighting for the best interests of our nation’s children, not ourselves.  If you suspect child abuse or even witnessed it but don’t want to “get involved,” please go find a pay phone, call 911 and report the abuse. That way your anonymity will be more ensured than by using your phone.

Regardless, I would like to offer the following: Each semester in all of my criminal justice classes, I spend quite a bit of time discussing child sexual abuse. I ask my students, “Who has to report child abuse?” Most of them state those already mentioned above. I let them finish, then go up to each one of them and say, “YOU are required to report suspected child abuse.”

The question of who has a moral or ethical obligation is moot.

We ALL do.

 

The Tough Lessons Learned From the Fall of Joe Paterno

When I first became a grandfather, my daughter asked what I wanted my first grandson to call me. “Grandpa” made me feel too old, as did “Pops” and “Gramps.”

I finally settled on PhilPa in honor of JoePa -- Joe Paterno -- a role model for me. I graduated Penn State in June 1966, a few months before Paterno became the head coach, though he had already been an assistant there for 14 years.

Virtually every fall Saturday since I have graduated, I have been glued to my radio or television listening or watching the Nittany Lions.

When they win I am thrilled, moody when they lose. But win or lose, what mattered to me most was the way Penn State maintained a clean, reputable, competitive winning program. Success with honor.

This is a round about way of saying that I have been in a total funk ever since I first read the grand jury indictment of former iconic defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky on child abuse charges and two high-ranking Penn State officials for perjury.

Since then, I have been trying to process my thoughts and feelings. I have denied, rationalized, conceptualized, intellectualized. I have been sad and angry.

I knew immediately upon reading the grand jury indictment how bad this story was, whether Paterno was legally implicated or not. This was Watergate, the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the Luzerne County judges’ “kids for cash” scandal story wrapped into one, with a huge Penn State bull’s eye on top.

You could almost hear U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, asking as he did at the Watergate hearings 39 years ago, “Just what did Penn State officials know, and when did they know it?”

Sandusky, like Madoff, was trusted because of his likability, success and his reputation for good deeds. As Frank Bruni of the New York Times wrote recently, child molestors are not necessarily in trench coats hiding behind bushes. They are more likely to be near altars or be scout leaders or coaches.

In Madoff’s case, people invested their hard earned money with him. With Sandusky, people invested their most prized possession, their children.

In both cases, when questions or doubts were raised, each received more than his fair share of the benefit of the doubt whether it be from the police, school officials or the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Not far from Centre County, the home of Penn State, we saw another group of youngsters victimized a few years ago by two Luzerne County judges who swiftly and cavalierly sentenced them to a for-profit juvenile facility the judges had a financial interest in. And the legal community, indeed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, initially ignored the miscarriage of justice that was being alleged by the children and their families.

JoePa was as much an educator as he was a football coach. Although he will no longer be on the sidelines, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from his downfall.

It’s time for university presidents and board of trustees to reclaim their athletic programs from high priced coaches, apparel companies, television networks and alumni boosters. Football and basketball have become a huge business, making a mockery of the so-called scholar athlete and undermining the moral integrity of our academic institutions and the university presidents and trustees that supposedly run them.

And the same can be said of any institution, non-profit or for-profit, which loses focus on its mission chasing the brass ring.

My sister, a fellow Penn Stater, asked me the other day what am I going to tell my grandchildren now that JoePa won’t be pacing the sidelines on Saturdays.

When they are older I will tell them about the importance of having the courage to talk truth to power. But now I will put the lesson in terms they can relate to. I will tell them if they ever see a classmate bullying someone even though they weren’t doing the bullying themselves, they have an obligation to tell the bully, even if it’s a friend, to cut it out.

For what the down fall of JoePa has sadly taught us is that you may be remembered not so much for the many good deeds you have done but more for what you should have done and didn’t.

John Lash's column will return next Friday.

 

 

Timing and Tempo of Puberty Linked to Behaviour Problems, Study Finds

Flickr: Tomi Tapio

Children who go through puberty at a faster rate are more likely to act out and suffer from anxiety and depression, according to a study released by Penn State, Duke University and the University of California, Davis.

Primary care providers, teachers and parents should look for two things when trying to make connections about behavioral problems in kids, says the study. Not only should they look at the timing of puberty but also the tempo of puberty, meaning how fast or slow kids go through these changes.

For girls, the results suggest that timing and tempo weren't directly related. For boys, however, a strong relationship exists between the two factors.

"Children are extremely sensitive to how fast or slow other kids are going through puberty, and that may contribute to both the internalizing depression-type problems or the externalizing problems of acting out," said Elizabeth Susman, a biobehavioral health professor and the research team’s leader.

They found that boys who go through puberty later timing and who have a  slower tempo exhibited the least amount of acting out and externalizing problems.

Kristine Marceau, the study’s primary author, said this is the first study to examine the effects of puberty and tempo. It examined data from 364 white boys and 373 white girls that had been collected as part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The final results appear in the journal Developmental Psychology in the September 2011 issue.

Susman also plans to examine the effects of tempo of puberty on later women's health problems. She said she is concerned about the relationship between early puberty and later women's health problems.