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New charges bring Penn State administrators to court

GrahamSpaniercourt.jpg

March 7, 2007: In this file photo, Penn State University president Graham Spanier speaks during a news conference at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.AP

Two Penn State administrators facing new charges they hushed up child sexual abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky were preparing to be arraigned, while the university's former president was not due in court until next week.

The arraignment of athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz on Friday comes a day after they and former president Graham Spanier were accused in a withering 39-page grand jury report of conspiring to conceal complaints about Sandusky, giving him time and access to molest more boys before his arrest nearly a year ago.

"This plan of action undertaken by these three administrators, who formed the very apex of decision making and power at Penn State, was created out of a desire to shield Sandusky from the criminal process and, perhaps most importantly, to spare the university tremendous negative publicity and embarrassment," the jurors wrote.

The legal proceedings for Curley and Schultz were scheduled inside a district court in suburban Harrisburg, while Spanier's first appearance was expected to be Wednesday.

Prosecutors alleged the men's "conspiracy of silence" extended all the way to the top at Penn State, including decisions not to alert police or child welfare authorities after getting a 2001 report of Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a team shower.

Attorney General Linda Kelly said at a Capitol news conference that all three "knowingly testified falsely and failed to provide important information and evidence."

Spanier was charged with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy. Curley and Schultz face new charges of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction and conspiracy. They were charged with perjury and failure to report abuse almost exactly a year ago, and await a January trial on those counts.

"This was not a mistake by these men. This was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part," Kelly said. "This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth."

Spanier's lawyers issued a statement that asserted his innocence and described the new charges as an attempt by Gov. Tom Corbett to divert attention from the three-year Sandusky investigation that began under his watch as attorney general.

"These charges are the work of a vindictive and politically motivated governor working through an unelected attorney general ... whom he appointed to do his bidding," the four defense lawyers wrote.

Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley called the defense statement the "ranting of a man who has just been indicted for covering up for a convicted pedophile. His arrogance reveals a man who has just found out that he is not above the law after all."

Curley's lawyer asserted his innocence and said she was studying the new documents; a message for Schultz's attorney wasn't returned.

Sandusky, who spent decades on the Penn State football staff and was defensive coordinator during two national championship seasons, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He has maintained he is innocent and was transferred to a maximum security prison on Wednesday, where he is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.

Curley, 58, is the athletic director on leave while he serves out the last year of his contract, and Schultz, 63, has retired as vice president for business and finance.

Spanier, 64, of State College, had been university president for 16 years when he was forced out after Sandusky's November 2011 arrest. He remains a faculty member but was placed on paid leave Thursday.

Prosecutors said Spanier, Curley and Schultz knew of complaints involving Sandusky showering with boys in 1998 and 2001.

"They essentially turned a blind eye to the serial predatory acts committed by Jerry Sandusky," Kelly said.

The grand jury report included with the charges said "the actual harm realized by this wanton failure is staggering," and listed instances of abuse detailed at Sandusky's criminal trial that happened after 1998.

"The continued cover-up of this incident and the ongoing failure to report placed every minor child who would come into contact with Sandusky in the future in grave jeopardy of being abused," jurors wrote.

Spanier has said he had no memory of email traffic concerning the 1998 complaint made by a mother after Sandusky showered with her son, and only slight recollections about the 2001 complaint by a team assistant who said he stumbled onto Sandusky sexually abusing a boy inside a campus shower.

The grand jury report indicates Curley, Schultz and Spanier told the university's lawyer they had no documents that addressed Sandusky having inappropriate contact with boys.

But Schultz did retain a Sandusky file in his office, the jury concluded, and he told his administrative assistant never to look at it.

Kelly sidestepped the question when asked if Joe Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January, would have faced charges were he alive. Paterno, the longtime football coach fired after Sandusky's arrest, had said he knew nothing of the 1998 complaint, but email traffic indicates he was in the loop.

"Mr. Paterno is deceased," she said. "The defendants who have been charged in this case are Curley, Schultz and Spanier, and I'm not going to speculate or comment on Mr. Paterno's relationship to this investigation."

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