HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Prosecutors want a judge to jail former Penn State President Graham Spanier for his conviction in hushing up suspected child sex abuse in 2001 by Jerry Sandusky, saying he could have prevented other boys from being victimized by the former assistant football coach.
In a court filing unsealed Thursday, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office also assailed two one-time Penn State administrators for their testimony in Spanier’s March trial after they pleaded guilty in the case.
Sentencing for all three men is Friday in Dauphin County court.
Prosecutors said state sentencing guidelines indicate that Spanier should get up to a year in jail for his child endangerment conviction.
“The child who was assaulted in the February 2001 shower incident and all of Sandusky’s victims that followed were particularly harmed as timely, appropriate action against Sandusky could have prevented their victimization,” prosecutors wrote in the 14-page sentencing memorandum. “Their lives have been turned upside down.”
They also say that, to this day, the identity of the boy seen in the shower with Sandusky “is still in question” in part because Spanier and the other two men – ex-athletic director Tim Curley and ex-vice president Gary Schultz – did not alert authorities.
Curley and Schultz each pleaded guilty to child endangerment.
Spanier’s four-day trial revolved around a complaint by a graduate coaching assistant, Mike McQueary, who has testified that he told Penn State officials – including the late football coach Joe Paterno – about seeing Sandusky sexually molesting a boy in a team shower in 2001.
Sandusky was not arrested until 2011, after an anonymous tip led prosecutors to investigate. Sandusky was convicted the next year of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving 30 to 60 years in prison. At least four victims at Sandusky’s trial said they were molested after 2001.
Curley, Schultz and Spanier denied they were told the encounter in the shower was sexual in nature.
It wasn’t the first time the men had heard a complaint about Sandusky. Prosecutors cited a 1998 complaint against Sandusky over his showering with a boy on campus that led to a campus police investigation, but no charges. Sandusky admitted hugging the youngster in the shower, and promised never to shower with a boy again.
In a separate filing, Spanier’s lawyer said the 68-year-old is suffering from prostate cancer and heart problems, and asked for probation and community service.
“Graham Spanier has already suffered severely through public shaming, loss of employment, and significant reputational harm,” Spanier’s lawyers wrote. “He is almost seventy years old and in worsening health.”
Prosecutors said they had agreed not to recommend sentences for Curley and Schultz. But, in the filing, they wrote that Curley’s forgetfulness during his testimony in Spanier’s trial wasn’t credible, and that his memory was “markedly more clear” in his private statement to investigators a week before he testified.
“The commonwealth’s position is that Curley’s testimony in the Spanier trial was designed to protect those who deserved to share blame with Curley for the decisions that led to the colossal failure to protect children from Sandusky,” prosecutors wrote. “His ‘forgetfulness’ also allowed him to save face in a room full of supporters who publicly called this trial a ‘witch hunt’ and fraudulent prosecution.”
Prosecutors also attacked Schultz, saying it defied common sense that he seemed unwilling to acknowledge the sexual nature of what McQueary reported, given what Schultz knew about the 1998 incident.
Paterno was never charged with a crime. He was dismissed as coach days after Sandusky was charged and died of cancer in 2012 at age 85.