A judge in Harrisburg held for trial all of the charges facing three former high-ranking Penn State officials accused of covering up allegations against convicted serial child molester and former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Calling it a "tragic day" for Penn State, according to media reports, Magisterial District Judge William C. Wenner said state prosecutors had met their evidentiary burden to advance charges against former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz.
Tuesday was the second of two days of testimony in which prosecutors introduced some of the evidence they may use to convince a jury that the ex-administrators knew about Sandusky's inappropriate contact with children and failed to alert the authorities.
On Tuesday, media outlets reported that previous testimony in which Spanier told a grand jury that he did not know of an investigation of Sandusky in 1998 was read in court. Spanier's testimony stands in contrast to an email prosecutors displayed in court Monday, showing Spanier was copied on a message between Schultz, Curley and the former head of Penn State University Police about an investigation of Sandusky regarding molestation allegations that same year.
When Spanier's attorney, Elizabeth K. Ainslie, cross-examined the police director Monday, she asked him to ballpark how many administrators and department heads from how many of Penn State's campuses reported to Spanier. The line of questioning may be an indicator that one of Spanier's defenses will be that he didn't recall the initial Sandusky investigation simply based on the amount of oversight he had during a roughly 16-year presidency.
Local prosecutors decided not to bring charges against Sandusky in 1998, a decision that Schultz, Curley and Spanier did not influence, according to testimony their attorneys elicited Monday.
Also on Tuesday, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, was testimony from the Penn State director of public information, who testified that Spanier repeatedly called her on the night he was fired by the school's board of trustees in relation to the scandal, asking that she release a statement saying Spanier quit.
According to the Patriot-News, Lisa Powers also testified that Spanier personally wrote the university's initial statements on the arrests of Sandusky, Curley and Schultz before he was fired, and that it was Spanier's decision for the school to stand behind his former colleagues and eventual co-defendants in November 2011.
Spanier was eventually charged the following November.
The former university president faces five felony counts — one count of perjury, two counts of endangering the welfare of children and two counts of criminal conspiracy. The state also charged Spanier with one count of obstruction of justice and a related conspiracy count, both misdemeanors. Spanier also faces a count of failure to report child abuse, a summary offense.
Schultz and Curley face similar charges, including two counts of endangering the welfare of children and two related felony conspiracy counts, along with one misdemeanor obstruction of justice count, as well as a related conspiracy count. They also face failure to report child abuse and perjury charges.
All three men maintain their innocence.
Ben Present can be contacted at 215-557-2315 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BPresentTLI. •