The second day of the Mike McQueary whistleblower trial continued Tuesday in Bellefonte with testimony from the former head of Penn State public relations.
Former university relations vice president Bill Mahon spoke in detail about the statement issued by then university president Graham Spanier following the leak of Jerry Sandusky’s grand jury presentment in November 2011, as well as the media fallout that followed. Mahon’s testimony complemented Monday testimony by Penn State news and media relations Director Lisa Powers.
McQueary’s suit was filed on the grounds of the whistleblower statute, defamation and misrepresentation. He’s seeking more than $4 million in lost wages plus legal costs and other punitive damages.
Powers was asked Monday about her role in drafting Spanier’s statement, referring to an email dated Oct. 28, 2011, containing the body of the statement. Powers testified that she, Mahon, who was her superior at the time, Spanier, then-general counsel Cynthia Baldwin and then-board Chairman Steve Garban were in attendance at the meeting.
The public relations department was to prepare for “two senior leaders to be charged with crimes,” she testified. She added that an early mention of “protecting victims of child abuse” was recommended by Mahon.
According to Powers, there was no questioning of the other wording of the statement — the “unconditional support” and “complete confidence” in former staff members Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, and was firm that the statement reflected Spanier’s opinion.
Mahon testified that he suggested adding the lines about protecting victims of child abuse because of his prior knowledge of Sandusky-related news coverage. He also denied having reservations about making the statement public, saying it reflected the opinion of Spanier, the general counsel and the board.
He testified that he believed Spanier’s reason for making the statement was included with the statement — that he had worked with Curley and Schultz for more than 16 years and they “operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion.”
He also testified that the accusations against Curley and Schultz were never discussed during the meeting, nor was there references to any sexual activity.
After the statement was posted on Nov. 5, 2011, he said, his office was inundated with media requests. At the time, he and his staff had been directed to speak with no one.
Statement from former President Graham Spanier on Nov. 5, 2011:
The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance.
With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee.
Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately.
Penn State has heard from the attorneys representing both Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. They have released the following statements:
Attorney Tom Farrell:
“Gary Schultz is innocent of all charges. We believe in the legal system, and we believe it will vindicate him. We will fight these charges in court, and Gary Schultz will be proven innocent of all of them.”
Attorney Caroline Roberto:
“Tim Curley is innocent of all charges against him. We will vigorously challenge the charges in court, and we are confident he will be exonerated.”