HARRISBURG, Pa. — Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier and two other high-ranking university officials Tuesday were ordered held for trial on charges that they tried to cover up reports that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky molested children.
Prosecutors showed enough evidence during a two-day preliminary hearing to warrant a trial of Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and ex-Athletic Director Tim Curley, District Judge William Wenner concluded.
“It's a tragic day for Penn State University, to say the least,” Wenner said.
The key testimony centered on a series of emails among the three defendants discussing the 1998 and 2001 cases and on the statements of Mike McQueary, a former team assistant and quarterback. McQueary testified that he had immediately told Schultz, Curley and the late longtime football coach Joe Paterno in 2001 that he had seen Sandusky molesting a boy in a locker room shower.
Sandusky, a defensive coordinator under Paterno until his retirement in 1999, was convicted last year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. He maintains his innocence and is appealing a 30- to 60-year state prison term.
According to a transcript read in court Tuesday, Spanier told a grand jury in April 2011 that he had never heard anything about an investigation into inappropriate behavior by Sandusky in 1998 with a young boy in the locker room shower.
But that ran counter to emails presented Monday that showed Spanier was involved in discussions with Curley and Schultz concerning the incident.
In his grand jury testimony, Spanier also said that he was unaware of the seriousness of the 2001 incident involving Sandusky and a boy that was reported by McQueary.
McQueary testified Monday that he told Curley and Schultz that he had seen Sandusky with what appeared to be a 10-year-old boy in a locker room shower in February 2001.
Both were naked, and Sandusky had his arms around the boy at waist level, McQueary said. He said he definitely conveyed that the incident appeared to be sexual.
Curley, 59, and Schultz, 63, did not report the incident to law enforcement. In grand jury testimony in 2011, Curley, Spanier and Schultz all denied knowing that the incident had been sexual and said it had been described to them as “horseplay.” All three told the grand jury that McQueary did not convey to them the seriousness of what he had seen.
Braden Cook, a computer forensics expert from the Attorney General's Office, testified that he found emails exchanged by Spanier, Schultz and Curley that discussed the 1998 and 2001 incidents.
In the exchange regarding the 2001 report by McQueary, the three evidently decided that Curley would speak to Sandusky and that they would report the behavior to the head of the Second Mile Charity, a nonprofit founded by Sandusky that provided opportunities for underprivileged youths.
In other testimony Tuesday at the preliminary hearing for Spanier, Curley and Schultz, a Penn State public information official testified that Spanier expressed no “concern” or “empathy” for Sandusky's victims when Sandusky was arrested in 2011 for assaulting multiple boys over the years.
Lisa Powers, director of public information, said that when Spanier initially drafted a public statement to address the charges against Sandusky, Curley and Schultz, it lacked any mention of the victims and solely expressed support for Schultz and Curley.
“There was no indication of empathy, or any concern expressed,” she said.
Spanier later added two sentences to the statement saying that the allegations needed to be fully investigated and that children should be protected.
Under cross-examination by Spanier's attorney, Powers acknowledged that she had never seen Spanier display callousness toward children.
Spanier spent 3˝ years as the chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He left in 1995 for what his friends called his “dream job” of running Penn State.
Spanier was viewed as an agent of change during his UNL tenure, improving the university's diversity and its academic programs.
He ruffled feathers when he went outside the athletic department in 1993 to hire Bill Byrne to replace Bob Devaney as athletic director.
He was involved in reorganizing the Big 8 conference into the Big 12. Later, as Penn State president, he helped UNL become a member of the Big Ten.
The official charges on which Spanier, Schultz and Curley will be tried are perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy. Those charges include allegations of hiding evidence from investigators and lying to the grand jury.
“This was not a trial. This was a preliminary hearing,” Timothy Lewis, an attorney for Spanier, said after the ruling. “We maintain that Dr. Spanier is innocent of all charges against him.”
Tom Farrell, an attorney for Schultz, said a trial could come as early as March.
Curley and Schultz were initially charged in November 2011, when Sandusky was arrested, and accused of perjury and failure to properly report the incident.
Spanier was forced out as president at that time.
A year later, he was charged with covering up a complaint about Sandusky while additional charges were filed against Curley and Schultz. Spanier remains a faculty member on administrative leave.
This report includes material from World-Herald staff writers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.