State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Sandusky investigation still open, but Paterno's involvement a closed question

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 1, 2012 5:04 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

With Penn State’s former president Graham Spanier facing charges stemming from the Jerry Sandusky case, yet another shoe in the child sex abuse scandal has dropped.

The state Attorney General’s office had long been circumspect about potential charges against Spanier for allegedly concealing what he knew about allegations against Sandusky. But that doesn’t mean the case is closed, said Attorney General Linda Kelly.

“There are other things that probably require some attention and further investigation, and I’m not going to comment further,” she told reporters at a press conference in which she announced the charges against Spanier.

In a statement, Penn State said Spanier will be placed on leave immediately. The Patriot-News reports he will be paid in the meantime.  Previously, Spanier was acting as a tenured professor, but on sabbatical leave.

Additional charges were also filed against former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who are awaiting trial. Penn State said Curley, who has been on administrative leave, will not have his contract renewed next June. Schultz is retired.

While the Sandusky investigation may not be closed, prosecutors appear to have put at least one open question to bed: the involvement of the late Joe Paterno in covering up allegations against Sandusky.

The grand jury presentment detailing charges against Spanier mentions Paterno frequently. The late football coach, who died in January, was evidently in touch with Spanier and the other administrators now charged with covering up what they knew about allegations that Sandusky had abused young boys.

The same was noted several months ago by the university’s internal investigation.

But Attorney General Linda Kelly did not address, head-on, questions about whether Paterno would have been facing similar charges as Spanier if he were still alive.

“I’m not going to speculate or comment on Mr. Paterno’s relationship to this investigation. He’s deceased, and that’s the end of it,” she said.

The grand jury presentment also writes that Spanier considered Paterno something of a wild card. It describes Spanier being “disturbed” that he was in the dark about what Paterno was telling police, and that he was miffed that Paterno retained his own lawyer, unaffiliated with Penn State, during testimony before the grand jury investigating Sandusky.

There were also many questions for Kelly regarding the length of the investigation into Sandusky, which went on for nearly three years before charges were filed. She said it’s a question that’s been asked and answered. State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan echoed past remarks of the governor, saying the case could have been “dead in the water” if it were brought any sooner.

Curley and Schultz will be formally read the charges against them Friday at 2 p.m. Spanier’s arraignment is next Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. All three men have maintained their innocence.

Kelly said her office would like to see Spanier, Schultz, and Curley tried together by the same jury, because they were all engaged in the same conspiracy. Whether or not that means the trial scheduled in January for Curley and Schultz will be delayed is something Kelly said is up to the presiding judge and the defendants’ lawyers.

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