Attorney General won't say if Penn State president a 'target'
Published: Monday, November 7, 2011 at 8:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
PHILADELPHIA — It's unclear if Penn State President Graham Spanier is a grand jury "target" of the child sex-assault case that's toppled two top school officials, but he is no doubt feeling its heat.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly confirmed Monday that coach Joe Paterno is not a target of the criminal case, but she declined to say the same of Spanier.
"This is an ongoing investigation," Kelly said at an afternoon news conference.
Penn State's Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley appeared in court Monday to answer charges of perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse. They are accused of failing to go to police in 2002 after a graduate assistant reported seeing former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually assault a boy in a locker room shower.
Late Sunday, after an emergency meeting of the board of trustees, Spanier announced that both men would step down. The president's own fate was not discussed, a school spokesman said.
Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period through his charity for at-risk youth, authorities charged.
Spanier called the allegations "troubling" but predicted the school officials would be exonerated.
The attorney general also declined to say if Spanier and Paterno knew of a 1998 campus investigation into another alleged assault now charged against Sandusky.
"That investigation was handled by Penn State University's police department," Kelly said Monday.
Lawyers for Curley and Schultz have called the case weak. Schultz's lawyer said the men did what they were supposed to do by relaying the report to their superiors.
Spanier testified that Schultz and Curley told him Sandusky had been seen "horsing around" with a boy. On Saturday, he pledged to stand behind his subordinates, while calling the allegations against Sandusky "troubling."
"I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years," Spanier said. "I have complete confidence in how they handled the allegations about a former university employee."
Duquesne University law professor Nicholas P. Carfadi, an expert on child sex-abuse within the Roman Catholic church, called the parallels "eerie."
"They thought more about Penn State than they thought about these kids. And that's what happened in the Catholic church," Cafardi said.
Whether or not the school officials violated any reporting laws, Carfadi believes they may have violated a moral duty to not only report abuse but to follow up on the report.
"Their institutional loyalty made them turn a moral blind eye to the injuries that were (allegedly) perpetrated against these children on Penn State's campus," he said. "That's also the point of the reporting laws — to make sure that people get caught early so they don't go on to injure somebody else."