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Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges Against Spanier, Curley & Schultz, Rejects Claim That Baldwin Misled Them

by on January 14, 2015 7:55 PM

A trio of former top Penn State administrators have moved one step closer to trial, and it seems likely that former university attorney Cynthia Baldwin will be a key witness.

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Senior Vice President for Finance George Schultz face perjury, conspiracy and child endangerment charges for their alleged roles in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The three men had asked the Dauphin County court to dismiss the charges, but Judge Todd Hoover shot down those requests in a court filing on Tuesday.

The motions for dismissal were heavily based on the controversial grand jury testimony of Cynthia Baldwin, who served as Penn State's general legal counsel at the time of the Sandusky scandal. Spanier, Curley and Schultz wanted to keep Baldwin's Oct. 2012 grand jury testimony out of the court room, but Judge Hoover denied their request.

The three former university officials argued that their rights to legal representation were violated when they testified before a grand jury in 2011, and that their right to attorney-client privilege was later violated when Baldwin herself testified.

The debate is centered around a nuanced aspect of law: was Baldwin representing the former administrators as university officials, or was she representing them as individuals?

In various motions in Dauphin County County, attorneys for Spanier, Curley and Schultz argued their clients were misled into believing they were being represented as individuals when they were not, thereby depriving them of their right to an attorney.

"Ms. Baldwin made clear on the record at each proceeding that she appeared as general counsel to the University," Judge Hoover writes in Tuesday's memorandum. "Such identification neither concealed nor misrepresented her role."

Judge Hoover goes on to note that Baldwin identified her clients in terms of their roles within the university, and that she described her position as "represent[ing] the university solely." Because she openly identified herself as counsel to the university, Judge Hoover says that Spanier, Curley and Schultz were each satisfactorily represented in their official capacities as university officials when they testified before the 2011 grand jury.

Spanier, Curley and Schultz each argued that their rights to attorney-client privilege were violated when Baldwin testified before a grand jury in 2012. The three men claimed that Baldwin should not have been able to testify, given the role she played in representing them in a related investigation.

But Judge Hoover says that argument doesn't hold water.

The judge says Penn State gave up its rights to attorney-client privilege in 2012, when a university attorney informed the court that "the University has agreed to waive privilege... to comply with the Commonwealth's grand jury investigation related to Gerald Sandusky." Because the court finds that Baldwin only represented Spanier, Curley and Schultz in their official capacities with Penn State, this waiver gave Baldwin free reign to testify.

Baldwin ultimately testified that the administrators failed to provide her with documents related to sexual misconduct allegations against Sandusky when subpoenaed by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. An investigation later uncovered numerous emails and other documents related to the Sandusky scandal that the three administrators allegedly attempted to hide.

Baldwin's testimony did not reveal any preparations with the three administrators prior to their own grand jury hearings, but it did contain negative remarks about Spanier's character. According to court transcripts, she referred to Spanier as "not a person of integrity" and alleged that he knowingly concealed information about past investigations into Sandusky.

"We respectfully disagree with Judge Hoover's decision, and we intend to appeal," says attorney Elizabeth Ainslie, who represents Spanier.

No trial date has been set in the criminal cases for Spanier, Curley and Schultz.

Representatives from the office of the attorney general, attorneys for Curley and attorneys for Schultz could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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