As president of Penn State, Graham Spanier was the supreme rationalist and the decision-maker.
He was someone likely to describe himself as very competent, and someone who thought his explanation was all that was needed to understand a question or situation.
And, according to the grand jury testimony of former university general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, Spanier was not someone who told the truth, at least to her.
Baldwin testified Oct. 26, 2012, to the grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky and Penn State administrators, saying that the longtime university president deceived her when he told her he had no knowledge of on-campus incidents in 1998 and 2001 that involved Sandusky and a young boy. Baldwin based her conclusion on emails unearthed from 1998 and 2001 that prosecutors have said show evidence that Spanier and administrators Tim Curley and Schultz discussed the incidents.
“He is not a person of integrity,” Baldwin testified, when asked what she made of the evidence and how it compared with what Spanier told her. “He lied to me.”
The transcript of the two hours of testimony was unsealed this week by the Dauphin County judge presiding over the criminal case against Spanier, Curley and Schultz. The judge, Todd Hoover, will use the document in considering whether charges against the three men should be dropped because of Baldwin’s role surrounding the grand jury investigation.
Baldwin testified because Penn State waived the attorney-client privilege that would have applied to Sandusky-related matters.
Her testimony did not venture into the grand jury testimony of Curley and Schultz, which she heard, and the preparation for it. The defense lawyers for Curley and Schultz have said their clients believed Baldwin was representing them, but Baldwin’s lawyer has said she was there to represent the university.
Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice and Penn State trustee-turned-in-house-lawyer, testified that she kept Spanier fully up-to-date about the developments in the Sandusky scandal. She even joked that the saying in Old Main was that Baldwin had her own pathway to Spanier’s office.
She said she prepped Spanier for an interview with law enforcement, in March 2011, before he testified to the grand jury the following month. Baldwin said she wanted him to be prepared in case he heard the words “sodomy” or “pedophile.”
Baldwin testified that a few board members had asked about the investigation when they read about it in a late March 2011 newspaper article. According to Baldwin, she told Spanier he was free to talk about his testimony but he told the trustees he could not discuss it.
Baldwin said Spanier was shocked when she informed him in October 2011 of the pending grand jury presentment and that Curley and Schultz were to be charged in addition to Sandusky. He didn’t know why that would happen, she said.
Baldwin testified that Spanier didn’t initially tell the whole board of trustees, and as they found out, their shock grew and they wanted answers.
Baldwin said she thought there would have been more discussion with the board after that May meeting, and she knew it to be Spanier’s obligation to tell the board.
“He said that he had been president 16 years, and actually, he could handle crises and that he could handle this crisis,” Baldwin testified. “However, he thought that the board wanted to handle this themselves. But he could ... he could do a better job because that is what he does as president.”
Baldwin also told the grand jury that she believed some statements Spanier made in a message to the board of trustees on July 23, 2012, were not accurate.
For instance, Spanier’s letter said that as he was sworn into the grand jury, Baldwin handed over to the judge an electronic file of Spanier’s emails dating back to 2004. But Baldwin said that was not true and that handing anything to the judge was not the protocol.
Baldwin also contested Spanier’s statement to the board that he had little preparation, saying that there was a great deal of preparation that included scheduling through his assistant a time for him to testify.
In her testimony, Baldwin also disputed statements Spanier made to a reporter for a magazine article.
Spanier was quoted in the article saying he didn’t know the investigation was about child abuse, but Baldwin testified that was not true.
Baldwin also testified Spanier lied when he told the reporter he didn’t know about the 1998 incident, that it was serious and that the investigation was about one incident.
“He didn’t think it was just one incident,” Baldwin testified.
Baldwin disputed several instances in which Spanier had told others, such as trustees, that he could not discuss his grand jury testimony. In the article, Spanier said Baldwin told him not to say anything.
“The fact is, is that I would never be saying grand jury proceedings are secret because I already told him you can tell them everything,” Baldwin testified.
When asked why Spanier would lie to her, Baldwin responded:
“I can’t get inside his mind, but the fact is that there is no doubt that he lied to me. I can’t think of any reason, other reason for lying than trying to hide it from me.”