Former Penn State administrators ‘turned their backs’ on child sex abuse, AG says
Jurors in the Graham Spanier criminal trial started deliberations Thursday afternoon. By Friday afternoon, they had a verdict.
Guilty on one charge of endangering the welfare of children.
Spanier remained poised as the verdict was read to retired Berks County Senior Judge John Boccabella, who presided over the trial. The verdicts as a whole came to guilty on the first charge of endangering the welfare of children, and not guilty on the second endangerment charge or the conspiracy charge.
Because there was no course of conduct found — a behavior over a period of time — the charge falls under a misdemeanor offense and not a felony. Spanier now faces a maximum five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka said. She declined to say if the state would be seeking jail time but did say the state did not seek to revoke bail.
The verdict came after five years of back-and-forth legal wrangling and a weeklong trial against the former Penn State president thatsaw several witnesses Tuesday and Wednesday repeating testimonies given during the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky. The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General-led prosecution drew out familiar faces such as Mike McQueary, Tim Curley and Gary Shultz, while building their case against Spanier.
Spanier never took the stand as his defense rested almost immediately Thursday morning after calling no witnesses. Closing arguments ensued and deliberations began.
Jurors were instructed on the details of the three counts prior to deliberation, which lasted almost 14 hours. The first charge of endangering the welfare of children, according to the judge, involved knowingly violating the duty of care of a child under the age of 18 by a supervisor or employed person — the charge of which he was ultimately found guilty.
The second count of endangering the welfare of children involved a persons in an official capacity for the responsibility of children intentionally preventing or interfering in the report of child abuse, Boccabella said.
The final charge of conspiracy to commit the crime of endangering the welfare of children, he said, involved an agreement of two or more people to commit a crime, and involves two conditions — the agreement and an “overt act” to further the goal of the crime.
Jurors returned to the courtroom several times during deliberations, asking questions about the definition of a conspiracy and what defined the role of a supervisor of children. They also requested to hear the Tuesday testimony of former Second Mile head Jack Raykovitz, who spoke about his interaction with Curley in March 2001. The Second Mile was the charity for at-risk children started by Sandusky, the retired Penn State defensive coordinator convicted of 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse crimes in 2012.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke at a news conference after the verdict, saying there are zero excuses when it comes to failing to report the abuse of children.
“Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Shultz were each in positions of authority and had an iteration of young boys being sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky,” Shapiro said. “Instead of reporting it to authorities, they consciously turned their backs and the abuse continued.”
Ditka said the trial has always centered around the children.
“The office (of attorney general) successfully kept the focus (of the trial) on children,” Ditka said, “And the jury successfully kept the focus on children.”
A woman who was singled out by Ditka during closing arguments as the mother of one of the minors said Thursday she had been watching the proceedings since jury selection. While she did not stay until the verdict was read, she said it wasn’t important to her.
“I’m just here for closure,” she said outside the courtroom. “Whether he’s found guilty or not guilty, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”
The mother said she had mainly come to hear the voices she’s never heard of those involved in the case — individuals like former police director Thomas Harmon and psychologist Jack Raykovitz.
“I’m trying to get rid of the dark, unhappy memories and replace them with positive, happy ones instead,” she said.
Spanier’s attorney, Samuel Silver, said they would be appealing the verdict.