Former president of Pennsylvania State University Graham Spanier says the charges filed against him relating to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal have more to do with politics than justice.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly on Thursday charged Spanier with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy.
Spanier's lawyers claim no one from the office of the state Attorney General would meet with him or his lawyers over the past year. "[Pennsylvania Attorney General] Linda Kelly’s willingness to continue this farce, on behalf of the politically motivated Governor who appointed her, apparently knows no bounds," Spanier's attorney, Timothy K. Lewis, said. "She has already been put on notice by both candidates for Attorney General, one of whom will replace her, that they intend to review her investigation thoroughly. For her to deny, as she did a few minutes ago, that politics played no role in these charges being made five days before an election, is patently false."
Spanier lost his job when Sandusky, an assistant football coach convicted of sexually abusing children on Penn State's campus, was first arrested in November 2011. In July, the results of an investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh showed Spanier, along with other high-level officials at Penn State, were aware of Sandusky's abuse but did not report him.
Spanier claims he only knew of a 2001 incident involving Sandusky and a child, which was only described as "horseplay," and not sexual assault, and has maintained all along that he was not involved in the cover-up. He shot back at the charges through a statement issued Thursday by his attorneys.
"Today’s Presentment is the latest desperate act by Governor Tom Corbett to cover up and divert attention away from the fact that he failed to warn the Penn State community about the suspicions surrounding Jerry Sandusky, and instead knowingly allowed a child predator to roam free in Pennsylvania," Lewis said. "Its timing speaks volumes."
Spanier's lawyers insist Corbett knew about the allegations against Sandusky beginning in late 2008 but failed to act.
On Thursday, prosecutors also added counts against two other Penn State officials, Timothy M. Curley and Gary C. Schultz, the Associated Press reports. Experts have speculated the late former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno would have faced child endangerment and perjury charges.
Spanier continued to serve as a tenured professor at Penn State after losing his presidency, but he has been on sabbatical, according to Penn State spokesperson David La Torre. "In light of the charges brought against him, Spanier will be placed on leave, effective immediately," La Torre said Thursday.
Penn State officials have declined to comment further on the charges against Spanier.