HARRISBURG — For 13 years, Graham Spanier knowingly ignored the possibility that Jerry Sandusky was molesting young men on Penn State’s campus, according to a grand jury presentment issued Thursday morning.
Since learning about the initial 1998 investigation, the former Penn State president kept his knowledge about the former assistant football coach confined to the trio he, along with former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, comprised.
During this time, Sandusky was able to roam Penn State’s campus, completing “serial predatory acts” against five known young boys, as well as countless others that may never be identified, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said.
Now, almost a year after initial charges were pressed against Sandusky, Spanier is facing an arraignment of his own, on the charges of perjury, child endangerment, obstruction of justice and failure to report, as well as conspiracy to commit the previously mentioned crimes, according to court documents filed Thursday morning.
He will be arraigned by Magisterial District Judge William Wenner at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Harrisburg, according to a press release by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Curley and Schultz are also facing the same charges.
“This is not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment,” Kelly said. “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.”
Spanier’s feigned ignorance
Up until April 2011, the Penn State Board of Trustees was given no knowledge of any investigations or subpoenas issued to the university, according to the presentment, even though it was considered Spanier’s duty as university president to act as a liaison between top university officials and the board.
It wasn’t until the first article, regarding the investigation, was released in April 2011 that the board began asking questions about the investigation, according to the presentment.
But Spanier relied on the excuse of “Grand Jury secrecy rules” to avoid answering questions or revealing any testimony he gave when subpoenaed by the initial grand jury, despite legal counsel Cynthia Baldwin’s instructions to discuss the investigation with the board, according to the presentment.
The presentment notes that Spanier was never told that his testimony was secret or that he “was prohibited from publicly disclosing that testimony.”
When the time came for Spanier to address the issues, many board members were eager to hear, he called Baldwin to explain the grand jury investigation process, according to the presentment.
Baldwin testified that “she was stunned when Spanier immediately directed her to leave the room” following her presentation — so much so, that she even left her purse in the board room, according to the presentment.
As it turned out, “Spanier specifically informed the Board that the investigation had nothing to do with Penn State and that the investigation was regarding a child in Clinton County without affiliation to Penn State,” according to the presentment. There was no indication given that there was any connection to Penn State.
When news broke last November that Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing young boys, Spanier initially released a statement issuing his “unconditional support” of Curley and Schultz without first consulting the Board of Trustees.
Within days, Spanier was terminated from his position as university president for 16 years at a late-night Board of Trustees press conference, where the longtime head football coach Joe Paterno was also fired, according to the presentment.
Board members testified that they were “surprised by Spanier’s vehemence” in supporting Curley and Schultz and ignoring the instructions given by the board, according to the presentment.
But when Spanier drafted another statement clearly ignoring the wishes of the trustees, there were no protests made, as many senior staff members and Penn State officials said Spanier was a “controlling president who did not easily brook contrary advice,” according to the presentment.
Lack of compliance
Many have criticized the length of time it took to bring charges against Sandusky, but Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said a lack of evidence forced the investigation to be further sustained.
From December 2010 — when one of the first subpoenas was issued — to April 2012, almost none of the necessary information to move forward with the investigation was available to the Attorney General’s investigative team, Kelly said.
According to the presentment, Baldwin notified Spanier of the subpoena and the university’s necessary response to the requested information, which asked for any and all records pertaining to Sandusky, as well as any information regarding Sandusky’s “inappropriate contact with underage males.”
Curley, Schultz and Spanier all responded with a similar answer. They said they knew nothing of any investigations of Sandusky and had no documents to turn over, though upon their removal, 22 boxes of documents, photographs and other materials were recovered from Sandusky’s office, according to the presentment.
Most of the evidence found in Sandusky’s office was used during his trial over the summer, where he was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse.
Kelly said the unwillingness to hand over many of the important documents needed in this investigation is a direct reflection of Spanier’s intentions to cover up the actions of Sandusky and protect the reputation of the university.
The administrators “showed a callous lack of concern” for the people reporting abuse from Sandusky, Kelly said. No one ever attempted to identify the boy from the 2001 shower incident, in which then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported seeing Sandusky in the shower with a young boy doing something of a sexual nature, Kelly said.
No action taken
Despite two separate reports of potential abuse by Sandusky, no administrator — including Spanier — made the executive decision to report the abuse to a child services agency, according to the presentment.
“By virtue of his position,” Spanier had a legal duty to report the sexual assault of the person referred to as “Victim 2,” thus bringing on one of the charges filed against Spanier Thursday, according to the presentment.
Through email correspondence between the three administrators, it is also clear that Spanier was aware of the sexual nature described by McQueary and actively decided to not report to an outside agency, according to the presentment.
“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 an email to Curley and Schultz. “But that can be assessed down the road.”
As was the case in the 1998 issue, action was not taken to curb the reported behavior of Sandusky.
In 1998, the 98-page police report of Sandusky showering with a young boy was labeled “administrative” and kept in a separate file, as “there was a concern the media might make inquiries if the incident were placed on their regular police log,” according to the presentment.
Penn State Police releases a daily activity and fire log that documents incidents reported in the past 24 hours, which serves as a public record. In this case, the investigation never made it onto the daily log.
‘Desperate act’ by Gov. Corbett
Since the charges last November, Spanier has maintained his innocence in regards to the Sandusky case, though Thursday marks the first time he was officially charged.
A statement issued by his attorneys shortly after charges were filed indicate Spanier’s frustrations with the recent developments, citing a feud between Gov. Tom Corbett and himself as a reason to “settle a personal score.”
“These charges are the work of a vindictive and politically motivated Governor working through an un-elected attorney general, Linda Kelly, whom he appointed to do his bidding,” the statement read.
Corbett soon responded in his own statement by email that Spanier’s statement “is the ranting of a man who has just been indicted for covering up a convicted pedophile.”
Spanier also filed a lawsuit against Penn State on May 24, asking the university to turn over copies of emails related to the Sandusky case so he could better prepare himself to speak with the Freeh Group as part of the internal investigation.
In the lawsuit, Spanier's attorneys wrote that he offered to resign from his position on Nov. 9 “so as to allow the Board of Trustees to have a free hand in investigating certain allegations of sexual misconduct relating to [Sandusky],” and the trustees accepted the offer. Spanier eventually dropped the lawsuit against the university.
According to the presentment, Spanier was terminated from his position.
The former president has also stood his ground in regards to the university-commissioned Freeh report and said it is “unfathomable and illogical” to think that he, a person who personally experienced child abuse, would have “knowingly turned a blind eye” to any report of abuse.
Spanier maintains his innocence through his attorneys Timothy Lewis and Elizabeth Ainslie.