The discovery phase in the perjury and obstruction of justice cases against three former Penn State administrators has begun with their lawyers asking the Attorney General’s Office for dozens of details they said are necessary to build their clients’ defenses.
The lawyers for former university president Graham Spanier, ex-athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz filed separate but similar requests for a bill of particulars on Friday in Dauphin County Court. The request is a procedural part of a criminal case as it heads toward trial, and it may point to what the defense attorneys will try to attack when the case is being tried.
The three former administrators are accused of covering up allegations of child abuse against Jerry Sandusky and blocking an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office. They are charged with obstruction, child endangerment, perjury, conspiracy and failure to report abuse.
The specific details sought by all the lawyers include the law, policy or regulation that shows the three administrators violated a duty to supervise minors. They also want the names of the children who were allegedly endangered and the facilities their clients’ were allegedly overseeing.
The lawyers had argued during a preliminary hearing that the count of child endangerment was too broad and could not apply to children who were not in their direct care.
For the obstruction count, the lawyers want the prosecution to spell out details such as the official duty their clients breached and the exact documents they had that authorities were after. For the conspiracy counts, the lawyers want to know when the conspiracy started, how the men agreed not to inform law enforcement authorities or university officials about the allegations against Sandusky and how they agreed to allegedly lie to the grand jury.
In addition, Spanier lawyer Elizabeth Ainslie asked the prosecutors to identify each statement they say were lies when he testified to the grand jury April 13, 2011.
Ainslie said the prosecution has charged Spanier with violating a version of the failure to report abuse statute that was not in effect at the time of the alleged crime, February 2001. Ainslie said to prove the charge under the previous version of the statute, the prosecution will have to show that the child came before Spanier in his professional or official capacity.
The lawyers said their clients are innocent and have vowed to fight the charges at trial.
In the run-up to the Sandusky trial, defense lawyer Joe Amendola had repeatedly asked for a bill of particulars that specified the dates the young men said they were abused by his client. The prosecutors gave the defense the most complete information they said they could — date ranges for the abuse — but Amendola was not satisfied.