A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday allowed prosecutors to add a conspiracy charge against three former Penn State administrators, increasing their possible penalty if convicted of crimes for their handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
Judge John Boccabella granted a request by the attorney general’s office to tack on a related conspiracy count to the charges of endangering the welfare of children.
Prosecutors said each felony count carries up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Jury selection is scheduled for March 20 in Harrisburg in the case of former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley.
The defendants sought permission last week from Boccabella for an appeal that could delay the trial. The judge has not ruled on that request.
They argue Boccabella erred when he declined to dismiss the child-welfare charges, arguing the statute of limitations expired, the defendants did not provide direct care for children and they are charged with actions that occurred before the law was revised.
Earlier this month, the judge dismissed charges of failing to properly report suspected abuse, and last year the Superior Court threw out perjury, obstruction and conspiracy charges.
The three administrators fielded a complaint in 2001 from a graduate assistant who said he saw Sandusky, then retired as an assistant football coach, sexually abusing a boy in a team shower.
They did not report the matter to police or child welfare authorities, but did tell Sandusky he could no longer bring children to the campus and they notified his charity for children, The Second Mile.
Sandusky currently is serving a lengthy state prison term after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys.
Last week, a new judge appointed to preside over his appeals under the state’s Post-Conviction Relief Act scheduled a March 24 hearing at the courthouse near State College to “present and finalize the evidentiary portion” of the hearing.