Almost exactly one year after indicting Jerry Sandusky, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, the state’s attorney general, Linda Kelly, both extended and tightened her noose Thursday with bold new criminal charges backed by sickening new information.
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier was indicted by a grand jury on eight counts of perjury, obstruction and endangering welfare of children after escaping charges a year ago. Additional charges of felony obstruction, conspiracy and endangerment were also filed against both Curley and Schultz, who are still awaiting trial on perjury and failure to report a crime.
As for Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach also in the middle of the 2001 decision to not turn Sandusky over to authorities, Kelly offered no comment on whether he would've been indicted. He's dead.
"That's the end of it," Kelly said at a noon media conference.
For everyone else, the horror story continues, the new charges and details laid out in a pounding 59-page grand jury "Presentment of Facts" which should produce fresh outrage over the potential cover-up of Sandusky's acts.
"This was not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment," Kelly said. "This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard to the suffering of children."
[Related: War of words between governor, Spanier]
The new information is almost as disturbing to read as Sandusky's initial acts. Kelly always maintained the case was an ongoing investigation and said additional documents and witnesses came forward over the last year. That included material from Penn State, which she said was non-compliant to requests and a subpoena until after the initial indictments were handed down, Spanier and company were removed from power and the school's board of trustees demanded all employees comply with the investigation.
"The grand jury issued a subpoena in December 2010 but pertinent emails and other key evidence were never turned over until April 2012, after these men had left their jobs," Kelly said.
That includes obvious non-compliance with subpoena 1179, half-hearted searches for any documents involving Sandusky – including not going through files in the athletic department, where he worked for decades – and Spanier's blatant mischaracterizations to employees, board of trustee members and eventually a grand jury about his knowledge of the situation, most of it refuted by testimony from his own university attorney.
If you thought the Penn State part of the Sandusky scandal was bad, it just got worse. And any closure Monday's one-year anniversary of the initial indictments might bring have been reopened.
Spanier, through an attorney, declared his innocence and claimed these charges were a politically motivated attempt by Gov. Tom Corbett to take focus away from Corbett's slow perusal of the case when he was attorney general. Kelly, the attorney general, is a lame duck not seeking re-election next week and says the timing is based on the conclusion of the grand jury.
Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, is in prison for at least 30 years, convicted in June for sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. He was transferred Wednesday to a supermax facility in the southwest part of the state where he'll serve out his time in what is essentially solitary confinement. He plans on appealing his conviction, according to his attorney.
This case revolves around the decision to not turn Sandusky over to proper authorities after assistant coach Mike McQueary came forward in February 2001 telling first Paterno and then Schultz and Curley that he saw Sandusky in an otherwise empty Penn State locker room shower in an "extreme sexual position" with a young boy. Spanier was included on an email chain discussing what should be done.
Sandusky was investigated in 1998 by local police after a State College boy said he was lured into the showers and Sandusky hugged and rubbed his naked body on him from behind. No charges were filed but the grand jury believed an allegation of similar conduct by an unrelated, and in this case adult witness should have been treated seriously.
Instead Sandusky remained free for an additional decade where he continued to abuse children, sometimes on the Penn State campus where he retained access to athletic facilities, the football locker room and football games. Children identified at Sandusky's trial as Victims Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 9 were all abused during this period of silence. Civil attorneys say they have identified additional victims who may file suit against Penn State.
The grand jury appeared stunned by the differing ways that Schultz, Curley and Spanier dealt with the 1998 and 2001 allegations. In the first case, the boy and his father went directly to the police, meaning Penn State officials could only monitor developments. And monitor they did. Schultz, who oversaw the university police department, was in nearly constant contact with his police chief, Tom Harmon, over the situation and the two had extensive discussions about Sandusky even though the case was being handled by local, non-university police. They met within 36 hours of the initial charge and over the course of a month, Schultz took extensive notes, discussing the likelihood of genital contact between Sandusky and the boy and wondering in print, "is this opening of Pandora's box? Other children?"
Schultz kept Curley and Spanier updated throughout in a constant flurry of emails. It was common for Spanier to be informed of high-profile crimes that might reach media attention, according to staff testimony. While one email from Curley said he spoke to "the coach" there is no certainty that he meant Paterno since many emails often used purposefully vague terms. In 1998, however, Sandusky was still employed as defensive coordinator. It's difficult to imagine Paterno wasn't told.
When a local district attorney declined to charge Sandusky, his police report "was not filed under a typical criminal investigation, but was rather assigned an Administrative number. That would make the report very difficult to locate unless someone specifically knew identifiers of the case." This, numerous police agreed, was highly unusual.
On Feb. 10, 2001, McQueary came to Paterno's home and told him what he saw.
"Paterno informed the grand jury that McQueary described Sandusky fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy in the Lasch Building showers," the presentment reads. The next day, a Sunday, Paterno told Schultz and Curley about what McQueary said he saw.
The action here was strikingly different. In the first case the victim of a crime went to the cops. In the second case a witness to a crime went to Paterno. With police not already investigating, the administrators had time to plot a course. Schultz, the indictment alleges, "almost immediately called" Wendell Courtney of the McQuaide Blasko Law Firm which does extensive work as an outside counsel for the school. That decision suggests he was aware of the severity of the situation.
Courtney billed Penn State for 2.9 hours of work that Sunday. The reasoning according to the bill: "Conference with G Schultz re reporting of suspected child abuse; Legal research re same; Conference with G Schultz."
On Feb. 12, Schultz called Chief Harmon and asked about the status of the paperwork from 1998 Sandusky investigation. Namely was it still around and thus potentially discoverable. Harmon emailed back later that it was still there. Schultz never mentioned the new allegation of criminal sexual conduct on campus to his own chief of police.
It took an astounding seven to 10 days for Curley and Schultz to even bother speaking with McQueary to get his story directly. Even then, according to the presentment, the meeting lasted just 15 minutes and neither Curley nor Schultz asked a single question.
In the meantime Curley, Schultz and Spanier were in contact via email about how to approach the situation and whether to alert child welfare. Most of these emails, including Curley seemingly changing course after a meeting with Paterno and Spanier claiming discussing things with Sandusky directly was the more "humane" way, have been reported extensively.
They are no less painful to read in this context.
Later, when the three-year grand jury investigation began, the administrators were no less cooperative. They ignored major parts of a subpoena, offered little to no information and appeared most concerned about protecting themselves. Even after the trio, and Paterno, knew Sandusky was under investigation and each man had testified to the grand jury, Sandusky still maintained access to Penn State facilities and brought children, dubbed "guests," to football games.
It was revealed at Sandusky's June trial that he and his wife, Dottie, sat in a Beaver Stadium luxury box at a game, Paterno's last, the week before the Nov. 2011 indictment.
Then there was Schultz maintaining a folder in his office labeled "Sandusky" which he instructed one of his administrative assistants through the years to "never look" inside. On the day of his indictment, he had the file removed from his office and brought to his home.
The entire web laid out in the grand jury indictment is a horrific portrayal of self-preservation, arrogance and heartless conduct by administrators. The long-awaited charges against Spanier only amplify the situation.
While last summer Spanier went on a show of force public relations blitz – including his lawyer ripping the school's own Freeh Commission report – he'll have a far more difficult task answering these pointed questions at trial, especially with many of his public statements at odds with testimony from university lawyers, staffers and police.
For Schultz and Curley, the state has even more damning evidence they'll have to defend against at trial.
This does nothing to exonerate Paterno. It only raises additional questions about whether his influence over the administrators played an even more direct role in the slow, hapless non-investigation of Sandusky in 2001. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't. Perhaps testimony at trial will provide additional clarity.
The trials of Schultz and Curley, scheduled for January 2013 in Harrisburg, will almost certainly be moved back. Attorney General Kelly said she wants all three men tried together. Spanier will deserve extended time to prepare.
So this could drag out into fall of 2013 or even beyond, a never-ending nightmare for Penn State as the alleged criminal actions of its one-time leaders get uglier and uglier and uglier.
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