Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Former Penn State president, plaintiff’s father testify in McQueary trial

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier leaves the Centre County Courthouse Annex after a morning of testimony in the whistleblower trial of Michael McQueary.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier leaves the Centre County Courthouse Annex after a morning of testimony in the whistleblower trial of Michael McQueary.

Testimony in day four of the Mike McQueary whistleblower trial continued with appearances by a former Penn State president and McQueary’s father.

Testimony opened Thursday with former Penn State police Chief Thomas Harmon, who served with the university police from 1972 to 2005, specifically during reported incidents involving former coach Jerry Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.

An email chain between Harmon and former senior vice president Gary Schultz was presented into evidence in which Schultz inquired about the status of an investigation into Sandusky. Harmon testified that in 1998 a Penn State police officer had been approached by a mother claiming her preteen son had been hugged from behind by Sandusky while showering.

Harmon said he directed the inquiry to the Centre County district attorney at the time, Ray Gricar. The boy was also interviewed by both Penn State police and Children and Youth Services, and he said the boy was uninjured.

Gricar determined the case had no elements of a crime and therefore was not a criminal offense, Harmon said. The case was filed as administrative information, not a criminal incident, in the department’s records.

Harmon also testified that about a week prior to his scheduled testimony before the state grand jury in early March 2011, investigators from the attorney general’s office inquired about Mike McQueary, indicating he had witnessed an incident.

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier took the stand and was presented with email evidence that he had been notified of the 1998 incident, but denied he had ever seen the email. Spanier explained that he had been out of the country at the time the email was sent, and had traveled to Washington, D.C., shortly after his return.

The notification would have been buried in thousands of emails, he said, which were not so easy to retrieve in 1998 as they are today.

Spanier also testified regarding an email exchange between himself, Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley dated February 2001. Curley had indicated that a “member of the athletic staff” had seen Sandusky in a locker room “horsing around” with a young boy.

This made the staff member feel uncomfortable, the email said, but the staff member couldn’t say exactly what he saw as it was indirect and around a corner.

Curley suggested two forms of intervention, Spanier said — informing Sandusky not to bring boys onto university property anymore, and take the information to the head of the Second Mile charity organization. Spanier said he found this approach to be acceptable.

Spanier testified that later Curley had pulled him aside after a meeting and said that the conversation had gone well and the matter was closed. This was the last he heard about it for 10 years.

Spanier said he had no knowledge of who the staff member was who witnessed the event or even where exactly it had taken place. He also testified that the event had only ever been described as “horseplay.”

Attorneys returned to the statement Spanier issued Nov. 5, 2011, and he described drafting the statement as well as the help he received in writing it by staff members Lisa Powers and Bill Mahon — both of whom testified Tuesday about their role in crafting the statement.

Spanier testified when he wrote the statement, he wasn’t aware of the specifics about the charges brought against Curley and Schultz, but was, in his own opinion, confident in his support based on the many years working closely with them and their previous handling of university crises.

He said while writing the statement, he had no knowledge of McQueary’s role in the investigation, nor ever referenced or intended to infer McQueary’s involvement.

McQueary’s father, John McQueary, recounted the evening his son called him at home to tell him of a disturbing incident he’d witnessed in a locker room. According to the elder McQueary’s testimony, McQueary had heard “slapping noises” in the locker room, but saw no penetration.

He also said McQueary told him he was up in his office at the time of the call, and believed Sandusky and the boy had left the building.

McQueary traveled to his parents’ house, the elder McQueary testified, and recounted the story in the presence of a family friend — Dr. Jonathan Dranov, who testified Wednesday. McQueary said his son was “visibly upset,” and advised him to tell former head coach Joe Paterno the next morning.

John McQueary testified that at no point did he advise his son to inform the police or check to see if Sandusky and the boy were still in the building. He also said his son never related whether or not he had followed up on the incident.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews