By Steve Eder (New York Times)
November 1, 2012
In February 2001, Graham B. Spanier, then the president of Penn State, exchanged e-mails with two top university officials regarding Jerry Sandusky.
The three men had been told of an allegation that Sandusky, a former top assistant to the longtime football coach Joe Paterno, had sexually abused a young boy. It was decided that they would approach Sandusky directly, rather than going to outside authorities. Spanier deemed this a “humane and a reasonable way to proceed,” with one caveat: “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.”
It is now known that Sandusky continued to sexually abuse young boys for years after. On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Linda Kelly, said Spanier and the two other university officials — Gary Schultz, a former university vice president, and Tim Curley, the athletic director, who has been on administrative leave — engaged in a “conspiracy of silence” to “actively conceal the truth.”
“If these men had done what they were supposed to do and legally required to do, several young men may not have been attacked by a serial predator,” Kelly said at a news conference, adding it was not a “mistake” or an “oversight” by the men that allowed Sandusky to continue his abuse.
Spanier, 64; Schultz, 63; and Curley, 58, now all face numerous charges, including perjury, obstruction of justice, endangering the welfare of children and criminal conspiracy. Schultz and Curley, who reported to Spanier, were already scheduled to stand trial in January on charges of perjury and failing to report child sexual abuse.
In a statement, lawyers for Spanier called the charges a “politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man.”
They added, “Graham Spanier has committed no crime and looks forward to the opportunity to clear his good name.”
Spanier’s arraignment is set for next week.
The charges filed Thursday retrace many of the same issues raised in a report released in July by Louis J. Freeh, a former director of the F.B.I. who conducted a seven-month investigation commissioned by Penn State. Freeh concluded that university leaders had disregarded the welfare of Sandusky’s victims, and his report quoted from Spanier’s e-mail in 2001 and included notes Schultz took in 1998 that the attorney general’s office also cited.
The new charges come nearly a year after Pennsylvania authorities arrested Sandusky. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, and in October, Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
In building the case against the Penn State officials, the attorney general’s office focused on allegations they concealed claims in 1998 and 2001 that Sandusky had abused young boys on campus.
“It is not just one instance where this was swept under the rug,” Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said during the news conference.
According to the grand jury report released Thursday, in May 1998, Schultz took detailed notes of a conversation he had with the university police chief about an allegation against Sandusky.
“At the conclusion of his notes, he pondered two chilling questions when he wrote: is this opening of pandora’s box? Other children?” the grand jury report read. A copy of the notes was included with the jury report.
The grand jury alleged that certain documents requested from the Penn State officials were not turned over after they were subpoenaed. Among them, the jury report said, was Schultz’s Sandusky file, which he kept in a drawer in his campus office and which contained notes and documents about the 1998 and 2001 allegations. His administrative assistant said he instructed her to never look in the file.
Joel Feller, a lawyer for several of the victims, said charging the Penn State officials “comes as no surprise.”
“They cared for themselves, the university and the program solely,” he said. “They totally disregarded the safety and well-being of Jerry Sandusky’s victims.”
Spanier and his lawyers have been critical of the Freeh report. On Thursday, his lawyers said of the criminal proceedings, “There is no factual basis to support these charges, which may explain why the attorney general and her staff have steadfastly refused — for a full year — to meet with Dr. Spanier or his lawyers to discuss this matter despite repeated attempts to do so.”
Spanier’s lawyers said the charges were a politically motivated attempt by Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania “to cover up and divert attention away from the fact that he failed to warn the Penn State community about the suspicions surrounding Jerry Sandusky” when he was attorney general. Corbett appointed Kelly to replace him when he became governor last year. Kelly denied any political motivation behind the charges.
Spanier was Penn State’s president for 16 years before being removed last November. During his tenure, the university’s enrollment expanded, new buildings were built, and academic standards were improved. He was considered an energetic figure on campus, helping students move into dorms in the fall and dressing up as the Nittany Lions mascot.
Before becoming Penn State’s president in 1995, he held senior positions at Nebraska, Oregon State and Stony Brook. From 1973 to 1982, he was a faculty member and held administrative positions at Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development.
Spanier has continued as a tenured professor at Penn State, though on sabbatical. Penn State officials announced Thursday that Spanier would be placed on leave, effective immediately.
Curley has been given notice that his contract will not be renewed when it expires in June, the university said. Schultz returned to retirement after the charges announced last year.
As for Paterno, who died in January, Kelly would not comment on his relationship to the investigation, saying, “He’s deceased, and that’s the end of it.”