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Penn State ex-president charged in Sandusky sex abuse cover-up

November 01, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Penn State President Graham Spanier, left, and head football coach Joe Paterno chat before a game against Iowa in State College, Pa., before the child abuse scandal cost them their positions.
Penn State President Graham Spanier, left, and head football coach Joe… (Gene Puskar / Associated…)

Former Penn State President Graham B. Spanier was charged Thursday with conspiring with top university officials to cover up the actions of football coach Jerry Sandusky, convicted of abusing young boys he first groomed with gifts.

Spanier, president of the university for 16 years, is the third top university official to be criminally charged in the Sandusky scandal. The others, Timothy M. Curley and Gary C. Schultz, have been previously charged and will face added counts, Pennsylvania Atty. Gen. Linda Kelly announced at a televised news conference.

The three now all face the same charges including perjury, obstruction, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children, she said.

The only key person not to be charged in the Sandusky scandal is former head football coach Joe Paterno, who was forced out when the scandal erupted a year ago and died of cancer several months later. Paterno was named in investigations as working to hide Sandusky’s crimes in order to protect the university and its vaunted football program.

Kelly refused to speculate on whether Paterno, whose victorious record was ripped to shreds by the scandal, would have been charged.

“He is deceased and that’s the end of it,” she told reporters.

Sandusky, 68, was convicted of 45 counts in connection with the abuse of 10 boys over 15 years. He was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison, meaning he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Earlier this week he was transferred to a maximum security prison where he is under protective custody, spending 23 hours out of every 24 in his cell.

Sandusky was arrested and formally charged in November 2011, but  allegations of child abuse, including showers with boys at a campus football training facility, were reported years earlier.

One case, involving the boy identified as Victim No. 6 during the trial, was from 1998 and a second involved a graduate assistant who said he saw an abusive incident in 2001. The mother of Victim No. 6 went to police and the assistant went to Paterno.

Eventually the matter went to Spanier, Curley and Schultz. Curley, 58, is the former athletic director now on leave. Schultz, 63, retired as vice president for business and finance. The three did not take action against Sandusky, Kelly said.

“This was not a mistake by these men, this was not an oversight,” Kelly said. “It was not misjudgment on their part. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth.”

The university commissioned its own internal investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh. That report concluded that Spanier, Curley, Schultz and Paterno hid Sandusky’s activities to protect the school and its culture of prominence given to football. The report also cited emails among the men discussing Sandusky and deciding not to report him to outside authorities. Kelly mentioned the emails and said they will form part of the basis for the charges.

“They essentially turned a blind eye to the serial predatory acts committed by Jerry Sandusky,” Kelly said.

All three men have insisted that they were innocent of any criminal charges. At a news conference and in interviews with the media, Spanier, 64, has repeatedly said he did nothing wrong. His lawyers have branded the Freeh report a myth.

Curley and Schultz were scheduled to go on trial in January on perjury charges.

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