Graham Spanier’s legal morass will, not surprisingly, continue.
A federal judge in Scranton, Penn., earlier this week overturned former Penn State president Graham Spanier‘s conviction on misdemeanor child-endangerment charges, one day before he was scheduled to turn himself in to begin serving a two-month prison sentence. The judge in the case gave prosecutors three months to retry Spanier if they so desired; Wednesday, the attorney general in the state of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, confirmed that his office will, at least in its initial step, settle for appealing the judge’s decision to the U.S. Third Circuit Court.
In a statement acknowledging that an appeal will be forthcoming, Shapiro stated, among other things, that no one, including Spanier, is above the law while also describing the judge’s decision in the case as “highly unusual.”
Graham Spanier, as President of Penn State University, was personally advised that children were being sexually abused on school property.
“Evidence proved he chose not to help the children—but instead to cover up the abuse, despite being well aware of his responsibility as a supervisor.
“In a last-minute and highly unusual decision yesterday evening, a federal magistrate set Spanier free just before he was finally about to begin serving his deserved sentence. Federal courts have very limited power to act in state criminal proceedings, and this ruling plainly exceeded that power.
“As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has made crystal clear, Spanier’s conduct was illegal. The Office of Attorney General will quickly appeal this ruling to hold him accountable for his conduct covering up child sexual abuse. No one is above the law.
In mid-March of 2017, ex-PSU athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges for their roles in the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandals that rocked the university in general and the football program specifically; a week or so later, former university president Graham Spanier was found guilty by a jury of one count of endangering the welfare of children for his role. In early June of that same year, Curley was sentenced to 7-23 months, with three of those months to be served in jail and four under house arrest; Schultz was sentenced to 6-23 months, with two of those months to be served in jail and four under house arrest; and Spanier was sentenced to 4-12 months, with two of those months to be served in jail and two under house arrest.
Spanier, who appealed his sentence, was also fined $7,500, Curley and Schultz $5,000 each. Additionally, all three former administrators were required to perform 200 hours of community service each.
All three were charged in 2011 after it was alleged that they failed to report a 2001 rape allegation involving Sandusky to police and child welfare officials. While the judge in the sentencing, John Boccabella, had harsh words for the defendants, he also chided the late Joe Paterno.
In the wake of the scandal that cost the coaching legend both his job and a sizable chunk of his legacy, Paterno himself stated in an interview that “I wish I had done more.” Judge Boccabella publicly wondered why he didn’t as well.