It took seven months to get retired Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky from being charged to being tried.
It took five years to get former university president Graham Spanier in front of a jury, but on Tuesday, that happened in Harrisburg.
Spanier’s trial on charges of child endangerment and conspiracy stemming from the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal started slowly at the Dauphin County Courthouse. The main jury was chosen Monday but four alternate jurors were chosen on day two, bringing the final number of jurors to seven men and nine women of varying ages and ethnicities.
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for men to do nothing,” said Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte in his opening argument, pointing to the heart of the case, namely that not informing child services about a report of inappropriate behavior involving Sandusky allowed “evil in the form of Jerry Sandusky” to “run wild.”
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The defense called the decision a “judgment call.”
The prosecution actually looked at two such calls.
There was the incident 19 years ago when a mother reported that her son was showering with Sandusky. Schulte said then-vice president Gary Schultz informed Spanier “because the president of the university should be apprised of something like that.”
Testimony included familiar faces from prior Sandusky-related trials such as retired Penn State police investigator Ronald Schreffler, who took the stand and spoke about the reported incident involving Sandusky and an 11-year-old boy in 1998. The incident eventually faded away as no charges were filed after an investigation by both Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar and the state Department of Public Welfare.
Former director of university police Thomas Harmon was also questioned, with a particular focus on the police report filed following the 1998 incident. The report, which the commonwealth argued would normally would have been titled relating to sexual assault, had been instead labeled as “administrative information.”
Harmon testified that since it was not known for sure if a crime was committed, there was no reason to label it as such. Harmon’s successor, Stephen Shelow, who took the stand later in the day, claimed that while it would be unusual to relabel a report like that, he did not contest Harmon’s decision.
The 1998 incident was not the only one.
Three years later, Schultz, Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley were facing another issue when a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, who would later become an assistant football coach, reported another shower incident.
Curley and Schultz entered guilty pleas to misdemeanor child endangerment charges last week. They were set to join Spanier at the defense table but are now expected to appear as witnesses, according to the AP.
McQueary also testified, speaking of the night he claimed to have seen Sandusky in a locker room shower with a young boy. While he said he spoke about the incident with both Curley and Shultz — denying he ever used the term “horseplay” or “horsing around” to describe what he saw, he also testified that no one ever advised him not to speak with anyone about the subject.
McQueary’s father, John McQueary, and family friend Dr. Jonathan Dranov both testified that they spoke with Schultz about what the younger McQueary had seen, but could not testify if Spanier had any interference with the reporting of the incident.
Wendell Courtney, then Penn State’s general counsel, said he told Schultz to report it to the state child-welfare authorities, even though Schultz “absolutely” did not describe it as a sexual attack.
“It was the smart and prudent and appropriate thing to do,” Courtney testified.
The former director of The Second Mile, a charity Sandusky founded and where he met most of his victims, said Curley told him that an investigation into the incident McQueary witnessed determined nothing inappropriate had occurred.
Psychologist Jack Raykovitz, who headed the agency for at-risk youth, said he advised Sandusky to wear swim trunks if he showered with children in the future. He also informed several high-ranking board members of The Second Mile about the matter.
The Second Mile did not take steps to keep Sandusky away from children until 2008, when it was told Sandusky was the target of an investigation.
Defense attorney Samuel Silver took issue with the conspiracy charge, saying Penn State officials told a few other people about the complaint and reported Sandusky to The Second Mile.
“That’s a heck of a way to pull off a conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children, to go off and tell all these people,” he said.
The trial continues Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.