HARRISBURG, Pa. (The Philadelphia Inquirer) — Graham B. Spanier, the Penn State University president ousted last year for his handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, was charged Thursday with eight criminal counts in connection with the case.
Spanier was charged with obstruction, endangering a child, and perjury, by Attorney General Linda Kelly.
“This is not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State,” Kelly said.
Tim Curley, Penn State’s athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the university’s senior vice president, face six more charges. Counts include obstruction, endangering a child and perjury felonies as well as conspiracy.
Kelly said that the three officials knowingly testified falsely when called before the grand jury last year.
“This case is about ... three men who used their positions at Penn State to conceal and cover up the activities of a known child predator,” Kelly said.
Asked if former head football coach Joe Paterno would have been charged if he had lived, Kelly answered that Paterno is “deceased,” which ended the discussion.
The grand jury investigating the case had called several witnesses from the university in recent weeks, many of whom were asked specifically about Spanier’s actions after the case against Sandusky became public knowledge.
The case against the administrators was built on emails, Schultz’s handwritten notes and billing records from university’s outside counsel.
The attorney general said pertinent emails and other key pieces of evidence were not turned over by Penn State until a year and a half after subpoenas went out.
The criminal counts against Spanier come nearly a year after Sandusky’s arrest set off the largest scandal in the history of college athletics and his eventual ouster along with another of Penn State’s largest figures -Paterno.
A university-backed internal investigation this summer concluded that Spanier and Paterno had some knowledge of earlier complaints against Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, but failed to notify authorities.
In some cases, the investigative team led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Spanier actively worked to frustrate state authorities looking into the case.
Days after the release of Freeh’s report, Spanier issued several statements characterizing the idea that he knew anything about Sandusky’s crimes as “absolutely wrong.”
“I’ve never met anyone who has a higher level of awareness of such issues than I have,” the former president said in an August interview, citing his own history with physical abuse as a child. “I wish in hindsight that I would have known more.”
That same month, Spanier attorney John E. Riley balked at the idea that his client might face charges.
“We don’t think there’s a scintilla of evidence to support an indictment,” he said.
Sandusky was convicted in June of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period and was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison last month.
Two other former Penn State administrators - Athletic Director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz - already face charges of perjury and failure to report abuse in connection with the case. Both men have entered not guilty pleas and are scheduled for trial in January.