Former Penn State President Graham Spanier wants to meet with university trustees to address what he says are errors in the Freeh report that said he was part of a cover-up of child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky.
The Centre Daily Times obtained the three-page letter to trustees, typed on Penn State letterhead and dated Monday, in which Spanier said not only did he know nothing of child sexual abuse by Sandusky, it is “unfathomable” that someone in his position would have ignored that predatory behavior. Not only is he a sociologist and family therapist, Spanier said he “personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child.”
“Had I know then what we now know about Jerry Sandusky, had I received any information about a sexual act in the shower or elsewhere, or had I had some basis for a higher level of suspicion about Sandusky, I would have strongly and immediately intervened,” Spanier wrote. “Never would I stand by for a moment to allow a child predator to hurt children.”
Spanier, still a tenured member of the Penn State faculty, has kept a relatively low profile since trustees terminated him as president. The Louis Freeh investigation offered a look at his role in the scandal, but Spanier challenged the report by the former FBI director, saying it is “egregious in its incomplete and inaccurate reporting of my 2011 discussions with certain trustees, advice and reporting from the (u)niversity’s (g)eneral (c)ounsel, and the recounting of unfolding events in November 2011.”
Spanier writes that he finds himself “excoriated by the Freeh report and individual trustees speaking negatively of me in public. My reputation has been profoundly damaged.”
The letter also points to the university’s counsel at the time, Cynthia Baldwin, and the chairman of the board — then Steve Garban — saying he kept the chairman as informed as possible, and those reports to the board were guided by Baldwin.
Garban stepped down from the board Thursday. Baldwin left her post June 30 after establishing the general counsel office.
Baldwin, Spanier wrote, told him “very little about how she was handling the (g)rand (j)ury investigation” into Sandusky.
Spanier testified before the grand jury, but he wrote that Baldwin told him he was appearing voluntarily.
“I had no preparation or understanding of the context,” Spanier wrote. “As I was being sworn in for my (g)rand (j)ury appearance, much to my surprise she handed over to the judge a thumb drive containing my entire history of emails back to 2004,” he wrote.
Baldwin’s attorney Charles De Monaco denied what Spanier said related to improper conduct by Baldwin.
“She at all times upheld her duties to the (u)niversity and its agents,” De Monaco said in a statement. “She is obligated to maintain silence to fulfill her ethical obligations to the (u)niversity. This silence should not be used against her to give credibility to these and other allegations against her.”
De Monaco said they plan to address the allegations and legal issues with the university and in legal proceedings, not in the media.
Spanier said in his letter to the board that comments from some trustees in the Freeh report about his 16 years of leadership are confusing. He said he worked with them to improve governance, had an open door policy and had “received stellar annual reviews following surveys of all board members, and four contract renewals.”
The letter also reviews what Spanier said he knew of the Sandusky shower incidents in 1998 and 2001. In the first, a boy’s mother reported the incident to police after her son came home with wet hair. Spanier said he was copied on two emails, one saying the public welfare officials had been contacted, the other saying no charges were being pursued.
“I don’t understand how one could conclude from such evidence ‘concealment’ of a known child predator,” Spanier wrote.
He said he never heard about abusive or sexual behavior in the 2001 incident when Mike McQueary said he saw Sandusky naked in a campus shower with a boy in a sexual position.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy