Penn State trustee low on sympathy for 'so-called victims'

Written by The Associated Press | Mar 31, 2017 4:55 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

FILE PHOTO: Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, arrives at the Centre County Courthouse for an appeals hearing about whether he was improperly convicted four years ago, in Bellefonte, Pa. Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

(Harrisburg) -- A Penn State University trustee said he is "running out of sympathy" for "so-called victims" of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky following the conviction of the university's former president over his handling of a 2001 complaint about Sandusky.

Penn State said the trustee was speaking personally, not for the university, and prosecutors issued a rebuke.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, following up on former university president Graham Spanier's child endangerment conviction, reports former bank executive Al Lord had told the publication in an email that he was "running out of sympathy for 35-year-old, so-called victims with seven digit net worth."

Lord has been a supporter of Spanier's and attended his trial. He is part of an alumni-elected faction on the board that has repeatedly clashed with others over the university's response to the Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Lord questioned why people who said they were victimized by Sandusky "were so prominent in trial."

The chairman of the trustees, Ira M. Lubert, said Lord's comments "are personal and do not represent the opinions of the board or the university." He said the sentiments of board and university leadership were expressed in the first line of a statement released after Spanier's conviction: "First and foremost, our thoughts remain with the victims of Jerry Sandusky."

The attorney general's office said prosecutors will "never 'run out of sympathy' for victims of sexual abuse."

"Unlike Mr. Lord, the jury understood how Graham Spanier's failure to act, while a predator was in his midst, caused actual and grievous harm," the office said.

Spanier was found to have hushed up a complaint by a graduate assistant who said he had reported seeing Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a school shower. Sandusky was not arrested until a decade later, when prosecutors received an anonymous tip about the shower incident.

Sandusky was convicted of abusing several boys and was sentenced to decades in prison, but he insists he's innocent and is appealing. Penn State has paid out more than $90 million to settle claims by about three dozen men who say they were abused as children at Sandusky's hands.

Spanier has said he plans to appeal.

The jury foreman at Spanier's trial said Thursday he was the last juror to vote to convict and feels he made a mistake.

Retired truck driver Richard Black, of Harrisburg, said he began to have regrets the day after the verdict, saying, "We got it wrong." He said he had doubts about whether prosecutors proved that Spanier was told by his lieutenants that what happened in the shower was sexual. But he seemed to equivocate, also saying "based on the evidence that we were given, and what we heard from people sitting in the chair, we rendered a correct decision."

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