By Cindy Boren (The Washington Post)
November 1, 2012
Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University, was charged today in connection with the child sex-abuse scandal involving the school’s former defensive coordinator.
Spanier faces eight charges: perjury, two of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction of justice, failure to report suspected child abuse to authorities and conspiracy charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and endangering the welfare of children. Three of the charges Spanier faces are felonies.
“This was not a mistake, oversight or misjudgement,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said (via Sara Ganim of the Patriot-News). “This was a conspiracy by top officials at Penn State.”
In addition to the charges against Spanier, more counts were added against two other Penn State administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who are awaiting trial in January. They face added charges of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction and conspiracy. Curley, the athletic director who is on leave as he serves the last year of his contract, and Schultz, who has retired as vice president for business and finance, were charged a year ago with lying to the grand jury that heard the charges against Sandusky and failing to report suspect child abuse.
The scandal, which erupted last Nov. 5 with the arrest of Sandusky, led to the firing of Spanier and Joe Paterno, the school’s legendary coach who died in January. Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June and sentenced in October to 30-to-60 years in prison.
Spanier stepped down in August and said then: ”Never in my time as president of Penn State did I ever — ever once — receive a report from anyone that suggested that Jerry Sandusky was involved in any child abuse, in any sexual abuse, in any criminal act.”
However, a report commissioned by PSU and conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, uncovered 1998 emails in which administrators discussed Sandusky’s behavior. Former assistant Mike McQueary had told the late former coach Joe Paterno that he had witnessed Sandusky raping a child in the Penn State locker room shower in 2001. In emails, administrators discussed the matter, including an email from Curley to Schultz and Spanier, with “Joe Paterno” in the subject line. “I have touched bases with the coach,” it read. “Keep us posted. Thanks.”
Although Spanier told the Freeh group that he considered the incident to be “horseplay,” an email he sent Curley was far more serious. Curley had proposed that they not report Sandusky to authorities, choosing instead to urge him to get help and ban him from bringing children on campus.
“The only downside for us is if the message isn’t `heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it,” Spanier wrote in 2001. “The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”
Spanier’s lawyers dispute the Freeh report findings.