HARRISBURG ‚?? Former Penn State President Graham Spanier was charged Thursday with hushing up child sex abuse complaints against Jerry Sandusky, taking the allegations of a ‚??conspiracy of silence‚?Ě to the highest level of the university and marking another chapter in the dramatic downfall of a once-renowned administrator.
Prosecutors also added counts against two of Spanier‚??s former underlings, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who were already charged with lying to the grand jury that investigated the former Penn State assistant football coach.
‚??This was not a mistake by these men. This was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part,‚?Ě said state Attorney General Linda Kelly. ‚??This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth.‚?Ě
Spanier‚??s lawyers issued a statement that asserted his innocence and described the new charges as an attempt by Gov. Tom Corbett to divert attention from the three-year investigation that began under his watch as attorney general.
‚??These charges are the work of a vindictive and politically motivated governor working through an unelected attorney general ... whom he appointed to do his bidding,‚?Ě the four defense lawyers wrote.
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said the defense statement ‚??sounds like the ranting of a desperate man who just got indicted.‚?Ě
Curley and Schultz have repeatedly asserted they are innocent. A spokeswoman for their lawyers said they planned to respond later to the new charges.
At a Capitol news conference, Kelly said all three men ‚??knowingly testified falsely and failed to provide important information and evidence.‚?Ě
Spanier was charged with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy. Curley and Schultz face new charges of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction and conspiracy.
Sandusky, who spent decades on the Penn State staff and was defensive coordinator during two national championship seasons, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He has maintained he is innocent and was transferred to a maximum security prison on Wednesday, where he is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.
Curley, 58, the athletic director on leave while he serves out the last year of his contract, and Schultz, 63, who has retired as vice president for business and finance, were charged a year ago with lying to the grand jury and with failing to properly report suspect child abuse. Their trial is set for early January in Harrisburg.
Spanier, 64, of State College, had been university president for 16 years when he was forced out after Sandusky‚??s November 2011 arrest. He remains a faculty member but was placed on paid leave Thursday.
Prosecutors said Spanier, Curley and Schultz knew of complaints involving Sandusky showering with boys in 1998 and 2001.
Spanier has said he had no memory of email traffic concerning the 1998 complaint made by a mother after Sandusky showered with her son, and only slight recollections about the 2001 complaint by a team assistant who said he stumbled onto Sandusky sexually abusing a boy inside a campus shower.
The three men‚??s actions were criticized in a report commissioned by Penn State and issued over the summer by former FBI Director Louis Freeh. That report concluded Spanier, Curley, Schultz and then-coach Joe Paterno concealed Sandusky‚??s activities because they were worried about bad publicity.
Kelly sidestepped the question when asked if Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January, would have faced charges were he alive. Paterno had said he knew nothing of the 1998 complaint, but email traffic indicates he was in the loop.
‚??Mr. Paterno is deceased,‚?Ě she said. ‚??The defendants who have been charged in this case are Curley, Schultz and Spanier, and I‚??m not going to speculate or comment on Mr. Paterno‚??s relationship to this investigation.‚?Ě