Ex-Penn State president convicted of 1 count of child endangerment
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier was convicted Friday of hushing up suspected child sex abuse in 2001 by Jerry Sandusky, whose arrest a decade later blew up into a scandal for the university and led to the firing of beloved football coach Joe Paterno.
Jurors found Spanier guilty of one misdemeanor count of child endangerment over his handling of a complaint against the retired assistant football coach but found him not guilty of conspiracy and a second child endangerment count.
Spanier, 68, showed no emotion when the verdict was read after 13 hours of deliberations.
The child endangerment charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Prosecutors declined to say whether they would seek jail time. Spanier’s lawyer said he would appeal.
The trial centered on how Spanier and two other university leaders handled a complaint by graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who said he reported seeing Sandusky sexually molesting a boy in a team shower in 2001. They told Sandusky he could not bring children onto the campus anymore but did not report the matter to police or child welfare authorities.
Sandusky was not arrested until 2011 after an anonymous tip led prosecutors to investigate the shower incident. He was convicted the next year of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving a decades-long prison sentence.
Four of the eight young men testifying at Sandusky’s trial said they were abused after 2001.
“Evil in the form of Jerry Sandusky was allowed to run wild,” Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte told the jury.
The scandal sent shockwaves through the Penn State community. It led to the firing of Paterno — who died of cancer at 85 in early 2012 — and resulted in the school paying out more than $90 million to settle civil claims by over 30 accusers. In addition, Penn State was fined $48 million by the NCAA.
Paterno, a Hall of Fame coach, was never charged with a crime.
Two of Spanier’s former lieutenants, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges a week ago and testified against Spanier.
But all three denied they were told the encounter in the shower was sexual in nature.