Sometimes former Penn State President Graham Spanier sees university trustees while grocery shopping. Sometimes they see one another at social events.
And sometimes they share an elevator, because two former trustees live in Spanier’s high-rise apartment building in College Township.
That is why, one of Spanier’s attorneys argued in court papers Monday, a Harrisburg-area district judge’s order barring Spanier from contacting any current or former trustees is unjustified — possibly even unconstitutional — and should be reversed.
“Not only is this restriction without legal basis, it is also impractical,” lawyer Timothy Lewis wrote in the request to modify Spanier’s bail conditions. “State College is not a large city, and contact between defendant and trustees is inevitable.”
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Lewis said prosecutors have not shown any evidence that could warrant a no-contact order, such as trustees being potential witnesses or that Spanier is likely to intimidate them.
The no-contact order was among a series of changes to Spanier’s bail made by District Judge William Wenner on Dec. 31.
Wenner loosened Spanier’s travel restrictions, letting him travel around the country as long he gives court officials an itinerary five days before leaving. Wenner also included the no-contact order with the trustees and a similar one pertaining to any prosecution witnesses, and the district judge did not elaborate on the basis for them.
Lewis said Spanier cannot comply with the order restricting contact with prosecution witnesses because Spanier does not know who could be on the list to testify. The prosecution would need to identify them, Lewis said.
“The only witness we are currently aware of is Cynthia Baldwin,” Lewis wrote, referring to the former university counsel who testified to the grand jury against Spanier.
Spanier, Lewis wrote, “has no intention of contacting her.”
Spanier was indicted in November, accused of what the attorney general said was a “conspiracy of silence” to cover up abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky. Spanier remains free on unsecured bail and is awaiting a preliminary hearing that has not been rescheduled since it was postponed last month.
Former university administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz were indicted on similar charges are awaiting court dates in their cases.
The attorneys for Spanier, Curley and Schultz have maintained that their clients are innocent.