Nine months after being indicted, three former Penn State administrators charged with obstruction of justice in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case finally have a court date for a preliminary hearing.
Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz will appear in Harrisburg on July 29 and 30, and even Aug. 1 if needed, for the long-delayed preliminary hearing during which prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office will present their evidence in attempt to have a district judge hold it over for possible trial.
The scheduling order came Tuesday from Dauphin County District Judge William Wenner. The hearing will start at 9 a.m. each day in courtroom No. 1 of the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg.
The preliminary hearing will pertain to the charges stemming from the second grand jury presentment issued in the Sandusky investigation. The second presentment came in November, accusing the three men of covering up abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago.
The lawyers for Spanier, Curley and Schultz have vowed to fight the charges and maintained that their clients are innocent.
Curley and Schultz were indicted after the first grand jury presentment, in November 2011, that accused them of lying to the grand jury and failing to properly report a 2001 abuse incident to authorities. Those counts were bound over for possible trial after a preliminary hearing in December 2011.
The charges in the 2012 presentment were based in part on evidence that came out during former FBI director Louis Freeh’s investigation for Penn State, such as emails suggesting Spanier, Curley and Schultz discussed how to handle the Sandusky abuse allegations. The presentment also appears to be based on grand jury testimony from Cynthia Baldwin, the former Penn State general counsel who sat through the three men’s own grand jury testimony in January 2011.
Baldwin’s actions are central to why the preliminary hearing has been stalled for months. The defense attorneys for Spanier, Curley and Schultz have fought to keep Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, off the stand and have accused her of violating attorney-client privilege by testifying against them.
The defense attorneys for Curley and Schultz asked the judge presiding over the grand jury to throw out the presentment, but the judge, Barry Feudale, declined, saying he did not think he had jurisdiction to do that. The lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court to have the case tossed out, but they were denied.
The lawyers for all three men currently have a motion before Wenner to dismiss the case because of the issues they have raised regarding Baldwin.
Spokespeople for Curley’s and Spanier’s lawyers declined to say if they would renew their motions to preclude Baldwin from testifying at the preliminary hearing later this month.
Baldwin was not an issue at the 2011 preliminary hearing for Curley and Schultz. Instead, former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary was the star witness for the prosecution, testifying that he walked in Sandusky in a campus shower with a boy and that he believed they were having sex.
“There’s no question in my mind that I conveyed to them that I saw Jerry with a boy in the showers and that it was severe sexual acts going on,” McQueary said on the witness stand in 2011.
McQueary testified at Sandusky’s trial last summer, and it’s not immediately clear if McQueary will be called on testify to support the perjury and failure to report abuse charges against Spanier.
Curley’s and Schultz’s lawyers have tried to fight the failure to report charge, arguing in written motions the statute of limitations expired in February 2011, 10 years after the incident. The incident in question, which McQueary testified he walked in on, was thought to have occurred in March 2012 and would have been within the 10-year window when the attorney general brought the charges in November 2011.
Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover has yet to rule on the motion to dismiss the failure to report abuse count.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.