HARRISBURG, Pa. — Penn State’s former president and two other ex-administrators were sentenced Friday to at least two months in jail for failing to report a child sexual abuse allegation against Jerry Sandusky a decade before his arrest engulfed the university in scandal and brought down football coach Joe Paterno.
“They ignored the opportunity to put an end to his crimes when they had a chance to do so,” Judge John Boccabella said as he lambasted the three defendants and the Hall of Fame coach over a delay that prosecutors say enabled Sandusky to molest four more boys.
Boccabella said he was “appalled that the common sense to make a phone call did not occur,” a transgression that “sort of robs my faith of who we are as adults and where we are going.”
Former President Graham Spanier, 68, was sentenced to four to 12 months, with the first two in jail and the rest under house arrest. He was convicted of child endangerment.
Former athletic director Tim Curley, 63, received a sentence of seven to 23 months, with three in jail. Former vice president Gary Schultz, 67, was given six to 23 months, with two months behind bars. They pleaded guilty to child endangerment.
The three are to report to jail July 15.
They all apologized in the courtroom to Sandusky’s victims before the sentences were handed down.
Spanier said he regretted that “I did not intervene more forcefully.” Schultz said: “It really sickens me to think I might have played a part in children being hurt.”
The case hinged on coaching assistant Mike McQueary’s claim that he witnessed Sandusky - a retired member of the coaching staff who ran a charity for youngsters - molesting a boy in the team showers in 2001. Prosecutors said that after McQueary recounted what he saw, the three administrators decided not to report it to authorities to protect the university’s reputation.
Penn State has paid out nearly a quarter-billion dollars in fines, settlements and other costs associated with the scandal, and the football program suffered heavy NCAA sanctions. More than 100 of Paterno’s victories were briefly erased from the record books.
“What was it about that conversation that made you change your mind?” Schulte said, referring to the ex-athletic director.
Curley, Schultz and Spanier have denied they were told the encounter in the shower was sexual in nature. Paterno’s son, Jay Paterno, said Friday that his father had followed the law in alerting Curley and Schultz, and that prosecutors have no evidence that Paterno tried to protect Sandusky.
“For them to bring that up and bring Joe Paterno into this, it’s an abuse of their office,” he said.
Prosecutors reserved some of their harshest words for Spanier, with Chief Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka saying he was “a complete and utter failure as a leader when it mattered most.” She said his inaction “allowed children to be harmed.”
“I find it really hard to believe that he doesn’t remember every detail of the most serious mistake he ever made,” Boccabella said.
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