The tragic saga of Penn State and Jerry Sandusky was in the news last week when Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly announced that former university president, Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley, and another assistant were indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice, endangering children, and criminal conspiracy. The indictment alleged that Spanier, Curley, and others entered into a conspiracy to cover up and conceal Sandusky’s sexual assaults of numerous young boys, many of which occurred on the campus of Penn State an at their football facilities.
At a press conference, Attorney General Kelly stated, “This was not a mistake by these men. This was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth. The men essentially turned a blind eye to the serial predatory acts committed by Jerry Sandusky.” Specifically, the indictment referred to February 2001 emails that Spanier exchanged with Curley and other Penn State officials where they decided to contact Sandusky directly about allegations of abuse rather than report him to law enforcement. This was agreed upon even though the men had detailed and credible evidence that Sandusky had sexually assaulted several young boys. And, we now know, that this failure to contact law enforcement resulted in Sandusky abusing other young boys for many years.
Spanier, 64, of Penn State University, had been the president of the university for sixteen years before he was forced to resign after Sandusky’s arrest in November of last year. He remains a member of the Penn State faculty, but was placed on paid leave last week.
Considering the damage caused to numerous victims, Spanier – if convicted – will most likely face a prison sentence. Judges and prosecutors dislike when individuals obstruct justice, conceal evidence, and mislead law enforcement during an investigation. Additionally, in an investigation dealing with sexual assaults of children, sentencing judges tend to have little compassion for requests for leniency. This is especially true when one holds a position like Spanier did, i.e. president of Penn State, and had a duty to protect children while on his campus. The Attorney General will likely argue that if Spanier had done his job, many less children would have been victimized by Sandusky.
The Attorney General refused to comment, however, on legendary football coach Joe Paterno’s involvement in the cover up and concealment and other criminal activity. “Mr. Paterno is deceased,” she said. “The defendants who have been charged in this case are Curley, Schultz, and Spanier, and I am not going to speculate or comment on Mr. Paterno’s relationship to this investigation.”