Penn State’s former president has been charged with eight criminal counts relating to his
alleged involvement in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly announced the charges against Graham Spanier on Thursday, calling the former university president’s inaction in conjunction with other top school officials a “conspiracy of silence.”
Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions football team, was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in state prison for sexually abusing 10 underage boys during a 15-year time period.
Spanier, who was ousted from his position as university president soon after charges against Sandusky were announced late last year, is charged with one count of perjury, two counts of endangering the welfare of children, and two counts of criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
He is also charged with one count of obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function and one count of criminal conspiracy, both second-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Spanier stands accused of conspiring with other top university officials to conceal information about Sandusky’s molestation of children.
He is also accused of obstructing the criminal investigation into the case, and committing perjury before the grand jury that was investigating Sandusky.
“This is not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment,” Kelly said in a statement. “This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard to the suffering of children.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the grand jury issued a subpoena to the university in December 2010, but important emails and other key evidence was not turned over until April of this year, after Spanier had already left his job.
Along with Spanier, two other former top university officials are facing criminal charges.
Former university Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz and former Penn State Athletic Director Timothy Curley are each charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of children and two counts of criminal conspiracy, one count of obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function, and one count of criminal conspiracy.
The pair had already been charged with perjury and failure to report under the Child Protective Services Law, with trial on those charges scheduled to begin in January.
In her statement, Kelly said Spanier, Schultz and Curley failed to do what was legally required of them when the Sandusky sex-abuse matter first came to their attention.
As a result, the attorney general said, at least four boys were attacked between 2001 and 2008.
Notes and documents about Sandusky’s 1998 and 2001 attacks were allegedly kept in a drawer in Schultz’s campus office, the Attorney General’s Office said. He told staffers that they were never to look in that “Sandusky” file.”
In early November 2011, when the charges were announced against Sandusky, Schultz and Curley, the file was removed from Schultz’s office and delivered to his home, Kelly announced.
“The existence of Schultz’s file about Sandusky, along with an extensive amount of additional information from Penn State that was beneficial to the investigation, was not disclosed until after Spanier was terminated as President of the University by the Board of Trustees, which then directed university personnel to cooperate fully with the investigation,” reads a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.
In its own statement, Penn State said while Spanier continued to serve as a tenured professor at the university following his removal as president last November, he will now be placed on leave, effective immediately. (He has already been out on a sabbatical for some time).
After charges were filed last November, Schultz retired from his position and Curley was placed on administrative leave.
Curley, who was on a fixed-term contract, was recently given notice that his contract will not be renewed when it expires on June 30, 2013, the university announced.
Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a statement that he hopes the attention the case has received will change people’s perceptions regarding sexual abuse of children.
“If you are aware of a complaint by a child or if you know that a child is being abused, it is imperative that you report it immediately to law enforcement.”
The Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal rocked the Penn State community and drew national and international media attention.
In addition to the criminal case, numerous civil suits have already been filed against Sandusky, the university and The Second Mile, the Centre County, Pa.-based charity founded by Sandusky in the 1970s as a way to help disadvantaged youth.
It is believed that The Second Mile is where Sandusky met and groomed many of his victims.
Penn State has hired the firm of Feinberg Rozen to help facilitate the possible future settlement of civil claims arising out of the sex-abuse scandal.