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Spanier Reports to Jail Early

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier has reported to jail ahead of schedule to serve a two-month sentence for his conviction on a misdemeanor child endangerment charge related to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case.

According to Pennsylvania’s online inmate locator, Spanier is in custody at the Centre County Correctional Facility in Benner Township as of Wednesday afternoon. A court docket indicates he reported on Monday.

His attorney, Sam Silver, said he could not comment.

The Associated Press first reported the news on Wednesday.

On May 26, specially presiding Judge John Bocabella ordered Spanier to begin serving his sentence on July 9. It will be followed by two months of home confinement.

Bocabella denied a request from Spanier’s attorneys that he be allowed to serve all four months from home with electronic monitoring, mostly because of his high risk to COVID-19. The 72-year-old has advanced prostate cancer and had open-heart surgery in 2019.

Prosecutors objected and said the Centre County Correctional Facility had no COVID-19 cases, was only at 41% capacity and is capable of handling Spanier’s short-term medical needs. He could also be granted an emergency medical furlough if it became necessary.

Bocabella did authorize Spanier to participate in work release and also ordered him to serve 200 hours of community service.

Spanier was convicted in 2017 on one misdemeanor count stemming from his handling of a 2001 report about former assistant football coach and Second Mile charity founder Jerry Sandusky with a boy in a campus locker room shower, more than a decade before Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

In 2019, a day before Spanier was scheduled to begin serving his jail sentence, a federal district court found the conviction to be unconstitutional. In December, however, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the conviction, ruling that the lower court erred in tossing that conviction on the grounds that Spanier’s due process rights were violated.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office subsequently filed a motion asking Bocabella to enforce Spanier’s sentence, arguing that no legal barrier remained to doing so.

Spanier has maintained former Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz only described horseplay in relaying the report made by then graduate assistant football coach Mike McQueary. They agreed to report the incident to Sandusky’s charity for at-risk youth, where prosecutors said he found most of his victims, and instruct him not to bring children to campus facilities. They did not take the matter to law enforcement of child welfare officials.

Spanier was forced out as Penn State president after the incident came to light in November 2011, when Sandusky was charged with child sexual abuse following a grand jury investigation.

Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in state prison. He maintains his innocence and his most recent appeal to overturn his convictions was denied earlier this month.

Spanier was charged in 2012 for his handling of the report and after years of court battles went to trial in March 2017. Though convicted on one misdemeanor count, he was found not guilty on a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a child, which alleged a “course of conduct” for not reporting Sandusky, and a felony conspiracy charge.

The jury foreman in Spanier’s trial said a week later that he believed the conviction was a “mistake.” In a letter published last week by PennLive, he was more emphatic, calling the verdict “a gross miscarriage of justice” and writing that Spanier should not serve jail time.

Curley and Schultz both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges in 2017. They each served short jail sentences later that year in Centre County.