HARRISBURG, Pa. — The "conspiracy of silence" that protected Jerry Sandusky extended all the way to the top at Penn State, prosecutors said Thursday as they charged former university President Graham Spanier with hushing up child sexual abuse allegations against the former assistant football coach.

Prosecutors also added counts against two of Spanier's former underlings, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who were already charged with lying to a grand jury.

"This was not a mistake by these men. This was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part," said state Attorney General Linda Kelly. "This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth."

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," 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."

Curley's lawyer Caroline Roberto said he was innocent of all charges, as he has asserted in the past. She said the new documents were being reviewed and would have a more comprehensive comment later. Schultz also has maintained his innocence; his lawyer did not return a message seeking comment.

At a Capitol news conference, Kelly said all three men "knowingly testified falsely and failed to provide important information and evidence."

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.

The charges were filed with a suburban Harrisburg district judge, whose office said Curley and Schultz were expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon and Spanier tentatively scheduled to appear Wednesday. They came nearly a year to the day that Sandusky was arrested.

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.

"They essentially turned a blind eye to the serial predatory acts committed by Jerry Sandusky," Kelly said.

The grand jury report included with the charges said "the actual harm realized by this wanton failure is staggering," and listed instances of abuse detailed at Sandusky's criminal trial that happened after 1998.

"The continued cover-up of this incident and the ongoing failure to report placed every minor child who would come into contact with Sandusky in the future in grave jeopardy of being abused," jurors wrote.

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 grand jury report indicates Curley, Schultz and Spanier told the university's lawyer they had no documents that addressed Sandusky having inappropriate contact with boys.

But Schultz did retain a Sandusky file in his office, the jury concluded, and he told his administrative assistant Joan Coble never to look at it.

"She said it was a very unusual request and was made in a `tone of voice' she had never heard him use before," according to the jury report.

Another Schultz assistant took the file from his office at the time of Schultz's arrest, made a copy and gave the file to him, the grand jury said. Kelly said it was eventually obtained by the grand jury.

A large section of the presentment concerns Spanier's concealing details about the investigation from the Penn State board of trustees after his grand jury testimony last year. At a May 2011 trustees meeting, he was asked by the board about the matter and did not tell them it involved the school and Sandusky, the jury said.

"Spanier specifically informed the board that the investigation had nothing to do with Penn State and that the investigation was regarding a child in Clinton County without affiliation with Penn State," the jury wrote. "Spanier also told the board that he could say little more about the matter" because of grand jury secrecy.

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," 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."

State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said he was not backing off his assertion last year that Paterno had a moral obligation, if not a legal one, to tell police what he knew.

"What he did, what he didn't do, Joe Paterno, you guys can decide," Noonan told reporters. "Most of this stuff is in the presentment. But that's not the point here. The point is, we have the president, the athletic director, I mean the actual top people and that's who we have charged."

Freeh's investigators uncovered emails in which the administrators discussed the 1998 complaint, including a May 5 email from Curley to Schultz and Spanier, with "Joe Paterno" in the subject line. It read: "I have touched bases with the coach. Keep us posted. Thanks."

Spanier told Freeh's team that he believed in 2001 that the encounter witnessed by graduate assistant Mike McQueary amounted to "horseplay," although an email sent by him to Curley at that time reflected a much more somber tone.

In that email, Spanier was reacting to a proposal by Curley in which they would not report Sandusky to authorities but instead tell him he needed help and that he could no longer bring children into Penn State facilities.

"The only downside for us is if the message isn't `heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it," Spanier wrote in 2001. "The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed."

___

Associated Press writers Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Peter Jackson in Linglestown, and Maryclaire Dale and Randy Pennell in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

___

Online:

Attorney general news release with link to grand jury report:

http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press.aspx?id6699

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Initial Arrest

    Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, 67, is charged with more than 50 counts of child sex-abuse involving 10 boys he met through The Second Mile, a children's charity he founded. The accusations of abuse span from 1994 to 2006. He was initially arrested on Nov. 5, 2011. A grand jury had begun investigating Sandusky in 2010. He would be arrested a second time in December.

  • Gary Schultz, Tim Curley Charged With Lying To Grand Jury

    On Nov. 7, 2011, Gary Schultz, the vice president of Penn State, left, and the school's athletic director, Tim Curley, right, are brought up on charges for lying to a grand jury about what they knew of Sandusky's criminal actions and failing to properly <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/breaking/penn-states-curley-schultz-held-for-trial-on-perjury-charges-224540/" target="_hplink">report suspected child abuse</a>. The day before, they both left their positions at the school after school officials held an emergency meeting to discuss the sex abuse scandal.

  • Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier Fired

    Joe Paterno, Penn State's then-beloved Hall of Fame head football coach, is fired four days after Sandusky's arrest and mere hours after he announced his retirement would occur at the end of his 46th season that year. Penn State's Board of <a href="http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7214380/joe-paterno-president-graham-spanier-penn-state" target="_hplink">Trustees fired Paterno and Graham Spanier</a>, the university's president, on Nov. 9, 2011 due to the growing outrage over Sandusky's sexual crimes.

  • Penn State Students Swarm The Streets

    Penn Staters took to the streets by the thousands in outrage over JoePa's firing. They <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/penn-state-riot-tv-van-tipped-video_n_1085459.html" target="_hplink">toppled a news truck of a local TV station</a> in anger over how they felt the media was handling the scandal.

  • McQueary Placed On Administrative Leave, Receives Death Threats

    Penn State's assistant coach Mike McQueary testified to the grand jury in December 2010 that he saw Sandusky sodomize a naked boy of about 10 years old in the football team's locker room shower in 2001 [though the documents were allowed to be altered, he initially alleges this incident occurred in 2002]. The grand jury found his testimony to be more credible than the testimonies of both Curley and Schultz, who as a result of his testimony, were brought up on perjury charges. On Nov. 11, 2011, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/bigten/story/2011-11-11/penn-state-child-abuse-scandal/51167796/1" target="_hplink">Penn State placed McQueary on administrative leave</a>, a day after the school said a number of threats had been made against the assistant coach. While on leave, McQueary would later change his story in emails to friends, saying that he had stopped Sandusky from abusing the boy when he saw it and that he had also reported the abuse to police. The local and campus police denied his statements.

  • The Second Mile Breaks Down

    On Nov. 13, <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/psu/second-mile-agencys-legacy-explored-325659/" target="_hplink">The Second Mile, the charity organization for troubled boys Sandusky began</a> and also where he found nearly all of his sexual abuse victims saw its President and CEO, Jack Raykovitz, retire after serving 27 years in that role. On, May 25, 2012, the sex abuse scandal left the charity in a failing financial situation. Second Mile officials began seeking court approval to shut down its programs and transfer to a Texas-based youth ministry dedicated to helping abused and neglected children.

  • Jerry Sandusky's Phone Interview With Bob Costas

    NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, talks with Bob Costas about <a href="http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/14/8804779-jerry-sandusky-to-bob-costas-in-exclusive-rock-center-interview-i-shouldnt-have-showered-with-those-kids" target="_hplink">Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky</a> during NBC News' "Rock Center With Brian Williams" on Nov. 14, 2011. Sandusky's interview drew further outrage and skepticism from the public in response to his answer to Costas question of whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys. Sandusky's answer was, after a pause, "I enjoy young people. I love to be around them, but no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys." The interview was originally between Costas and an attorney for Sandusky, but Sandusky abruptly called in and participated in the interview by phone.

  • Sandusky Sued Over Abusing Young Boy 'Over 100 Times'

    On Nov. 30, 2011, civil charges are brought against Jerry Sandusky, The Second Mile and Penn State from a victim, known at the time as John Doe (now known as Travis Weaver), 29, claiming he was <a href="http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/12/01/41859.htm" target="_hplink">sexually abused by Sandusky over 100 times from the age of 10 to 14</a>. He also said that Sandusky threatened his family to prevent him from speaking out about the abuse. His attorney Jeff Anderson (pictured) addresses the media during a news conference that same day in Philadelphia, saying he believed Sandusky could not control his sexual impulses toward children and harshly criticized officials who failed to report their suspicions.

  • Paterno Gives Final Interview

    Before dying of lung cancer in January, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/joe-paternos-first-interview-since-the-penn-state-sandusky-scandal/2012/01/13/gIQA08e4yP_story.html" target="_hplink">Paterno gave his final interview</a> on Jan. 14 with the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins. She asked JoePa about Sandusky: <blockquote>He maintains his innocence. If Sandusky is guilty, "I'm sick about it," Paterno said. How Sandusky, 67, allegedly evaded detection by state child services, university administrators, teachers, parents, donors and Paterno himself remains an open question. "I wish I knew," Paterno said. "I don't know the answer to that. It's hard." Almost as difficult for Paterno to answer is the question of why, after receiving a report in 2002 that Sandusky had abused a boy in the shower of Penn State's Lasch Football Building, and forwarding it to his superiors, he didn't follow up more aggressively. "I didn't know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was," he said. "So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way."</blockquote>

  • Paterno Dies: Students, Family Mourn Loss

    At age 85, <a href="http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7489238/joe-paterno-ex-penn-state-nittany-lions-coach-dies-85-2-month-cancer-fight" target="_hplink">JoePa dies of lung cancer</a> surrounded by family on Sunday, Jan. 22 in a State College, Pa. hospital.

  • Sandusky Is Convicted Pedophile

    A jury <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/22/jerry-sandusky-guilty-verdict_n_1616479.html?utm_hp_ref=jerry-sandusky" target="_hplink"> convicts Jerry Sandusky</a> of 45 counts of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years on June 22. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, though Sandusky said he plans to appeal.

  • Matt Sandusky Claims Father Abused Him

    Matt Sandusky, right, adopted son of Jerry Sandusky, releases a statement saying <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/matt-sandusky-jerry-adopted-son-father-abused_n_1617063.html" target="_hplink">his father sexually abused him</a> as an 8-year-old boy. Matt Sandusky makes the announcement on the same day Jerry is convicted by a jury of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 others boys.

  • Freeh Report Releases To Public

    Former FBI director Louis Freeh releases a report on July 12 of his investigation into "who knew what, when" in the Penn State scandal. Freeh's investigation reveals top Penn State officials, including Spanier and Paterno, as well as coaches, janitors, psychologists and campus police were aware of the allegations against Sandusky. All failed to take action. Emails and documents showed discussions over what to do about Sandusky, eventually deciding not to report or confront him. Freeh said the most "saddening and sobering" finding from his group's report into the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/freeh-report-penn-state-coverup-joe-paterno-jerry-sandusky_n_1667727.html" target="_hplink">Penn State senior leaders' "total disregard" for the safety and welfare of the ex-coach's child victims</a>.

  • Three New Accusers Allege Sandusky Abused Them

    On July 16, media outlets reported that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/penn-state-scandal-new-sandusky-accusers_n_1677178.html" target="_hplink">three new victims allege that Sandusky sexually abused them in the '70s and '80s</a>. They are the only alleged victims to claim Sandusky committed criminal sexual acts prior to 1994. Louis Freeh said in a press conference July 12 that his team investigated Sandusky's actions in the '70s and '80s but found nothing of substantial importance during those decades relating to Sandusky's pedophilia.

  • Paterno Family, Spanier Reject Freeh Findings

    In the days after the Freeh Report's release,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/graham-spanier-penn-state-freeh-report_n_1678158.html?utm_hp_ref=college" target="_hplink"> Paterno's family and Graham Spanier have issued statements rejecting</a> the Freeh investigation's findings. The Paterno family has announced it will launch its own investigation of sex abuse scandal and Penn State officials handling of the matter. Spanier, left, has also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/jerry-sandusky-scandal-graham-spanier-penn-state-knew_n_1663549.html" target="_hplink">filed a civil lawsuit against Penn State</a> for not releasing his old emails so he could prepare for the Freeh investigation.