Hoping to fight the perception he aided in the coverup of Jerry Sandusky's pattern of child molestation, ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier sent a three-page letter Monday to the school's board of trustees defending himself.
The letter, which has since been obtained by the Patriot-News and other media outlets, insists that he would not have turned "a blind eye" to Sandusky's victims because of Spanier's own abuse history. Lawyer Peter Vaira told the Associated Press that Spanier was never sexually abused as a kid, but his client's father dished out regular "disciplinary beatings" severe enough for Spanier to have his nose straightened several times.
"It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth ... would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children," Spanier said in the letter.
Spanier has not been criminally charged, but the investigation conducted by ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh concluded he helped fellow university officials conceal Sandusky's misdeeds to protect Joe Paterno and the football program. Reiterating his early testimony to a grand jury, Spanier wrote in the letter that he "never heard a word about abusive or sexual behavior" from Sandusky and that the shower room actions of the assistant coach were described to him as "horseplay."
Perhaps Spanier wasn't as aware of the severity of the situation as we've been led to think, but it's difficult to believe that considering the results of the Freeh Report, which was commissioned by Penn State.
That internal report condemned Spanier, Paterno and other school officials for hiding what they knew about Sandusky rather than reporting it to the police. Unless Spanier has proof that aspects of the report are false, any public defense he tries is going to sound hollow.