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Opening Statements Delivered in Spanier Trial

by on March 21, 2017 4:16 PM

The prosecution in the trial of former Penn State president Graham Spanier previewed former senior vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley’s testimony during opening statements delivered Tuesday morning in Dauphin County Court.

The focus of deputy attorney general Patrick Schulte’s opening remarks revolved around Spanier’s alleged knowledge of Jerry Sandusky showering with children in football locker rooms in 1998 and 2001 and his failure to take further action, as reported by the Legal Intelligencer.

Spanier faces felony counts of endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy.

Schulte emphatically described an alleged intentional failure by the three administrators in acting on a report from then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary that Sandusky was engaged in a sexual act with a boy in a Lasch Building shower — a report that was told to Joe Paterno, who then advised McQueary to talk with Curley and Schultz.

Spanier, Curley and Schultz have maintained that they were not told that anything sexual occurred.

Schulte contended that all three administrators had prior knowledge of a similar investigation into Sandusky three years earlier. “[Schultz and Curley] are going to tell you, ‘we pretty much thought of ‘98 right away,’” Schulte said.

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for men to do nothing,” Schulte said, according to the “Evil thrives when men do nothing…those three men failed to protect the most vulnerable among us — those kids.”

Though three agreed to tell the director of Sandusky's Second Mile charity of McQueary's report and tell Sandusky he couldn't bring children to the locker rooms, they did nothing to enforce it, Schulte said. 

"The showers at Penn State continued to be Jerry Sandusky’s sanctuary for child molestation,” he said.

Schulte added that Schultz plans on expressing regret during his testimony, adding that Schultz will say “We messed up,” referencing the trio’s decision not to report what McQueary saw to the Department of Public Welfare.

Both Schultz and Curley will testify after pleading guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges last week as part of a plea deal.

Schulte’s claims were refuted by Sam Silver, Spanier’s attorney, who said that the former Penn State president did not have direct contact with McQueary, instead falling back on the information provided to him from Schultz and Curley. Silver maintains that nobody alerted Spanier of Sandusky engaging in a sexual act with a boy.

Silver said that Spanier had made a well-intentioned "judgment call," based on the information he had and that should not be criminalized. He also said that the administrators' course of action did involve telling others and that no one was ever told not to talk about it.

“This was far from criminal conspiracy,” Silver said.

Former Penn State Police chief Tom Harmon testified on Tuesday afternoon about the 1998 incident, which was investigated by Penn State Police and Children and Youth Services, but which the district attorney at the time chose not to prosecute. Harmon said he never discussed that incident with Spanier.

Spanier was copied at the end of a string of emails in 1998 in which Schultz said the matter had been resolved. Spanier testified in McQueary's civil trial last fall that he did not remember ever seeing it. He said he had been traveling at the time, didn't have access to email while abroad and had a large volume of email when he returned, stating that he probably did not read all of it. If he had, he said, he would have noted that Schultz said it was resolved had no reason to inquire further.

Testimony continued Tuesday afternoon. McQueary was expected to be among the witnesses.

David Abruzesse writes for Onward State
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