The lawyer for ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier is raising new questions over what she called contradictions raised by the grand jury testimony of Cynthia Baldwin, the university’s embattled former in-house lawyer.
Baldwin approached the state Attorney General’s Office about an “off the record” discussion in exchange for a deal in which the information she provided was not to be used against her, according to documentation released Sunday by Spanier lawyer Elizabeth Ainslie.
Baldwin signed the document, called a proffer letter, on Oct. 19, 2012, and a week later she went before a grand jury. In her testimony, Baldwin said Spanier was “not a person of integrity” because of lies she thought he told her about his knowledge of abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.
Spanier’s lawyer also released glowing remarks Baldwin made to federal investigators about Spanier that were included in a report about him for a national security consulting job. That interview with Baldwin happened only months before Baldwin went to the grand jury.
“Ms. Baldwin’s testimony was, we believe, created in large part by her own fear of prosecution,” Ainslie said in a statement. “We believe this chronology — showing Cynthia Baldwin’s remarkable flip-flop — speaks for itself.”
The letter indicates Baldwin floated the idea of a proffer to state prosecutors and Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina said his office was “interested in pursuing this matter.”
“Although your client may be prosecuted for any criminal involvement, no statements made by you or your client, or other information provided by you or your client during the ‘off-the-record’ proffer or discussion will be based against your client in any criminal case,” Fina wrote to Baldwin and her lawyer, Charles De Monaco.
Ainslie and the lawyers for Spanier’s former colleagues, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, have put Baldwin at the center of their defense strategy.
Ainslie and her co-counsel have asked a Dauphin County judge to dismiss some counts against Spanier, Curley and Schultz based on the issues surrounding Baldwin’s involvement. The judge said Tuesday he would only consider written documentation, such as court transcripts, and he refused to hear new testimony from Baldwin at a court hearing.
The lawyers say Baldwin misled their clients into thinking she was there to represent them at their grand jury appearances in early 2011.
For instance, newly released court transcripts show Baldwin told the grand jury judge in private that she was “solely” representing Penn State. But, minutes later, when a prosecutor asked Spanier if he had a lawyer with him, he named Baldwin, who didn’t object or clarify her involvement, the transcript shows.
The lawyers say Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege by testifying to the grand jury and that her presence in the grand jury room, if she wasn’t representing the men, was in violation of grand jury secrecy.
Baldwin’s lawyer has said his client, who is a former state Supreme Court justice and Penn State trustee, did nothing wrong. Penn State waived attorney-client privilege for almost all Sandusky-related issues, according to a transcript of a private meeting days after the proffer letter and days before Baldwin took the stand in front of the grand jury.
Baldwin testified for more than two hours, detailing how she kept Spanier informed of legal issues about the Sandusky scandal before the charges were announced and later how Spanier went into crisis mode when the scandal rocked the campus.
In response to Baldwin’s testimony, Ainslie said Baldwin’s’ words are “shamefully inaccurate” and one-sided, because the defense lawyer could not cross-examine the witness at the grand jury.
Baldwin testified that Spanier lied to her about his knowledge of the Sandusky allegations, saying that email messages in 1998 and 2001 contradict his assertion that he knew nothing about either incident at the time.
In her statement, Ainslie suggested Baldwin testified the way she did because the conclusions were suggested to her by Fina, the prosecutor.
Baldwin also testified that Spanier lied in a news report about his knowledge of the incidents.
That’s a completely different picture of Spanier from the one Baldwin gave to federal investigators during an interview sometime between February and May 2012.
Baldwin had high praise for Spanier, called him “a man of integrity” and said that his performance as the university president was “wonderful.”
Baldwin also told the investigators that she thought Spanier was fired Nov. 9, 2011, because he offered unconditional support to Curley and Schultz, who’d been indicted days before on charges of perjury and failure to report abuse.
According to the report, Baldwin was asked whether Gov. Tom Corbett put any pressure on Penn State’s board to fire Spanier. Baldwin said the governor was unhappy that Spanier fought his drastic budget cuts to Penn State and that there had never been a governor as involved in the board as Corbett was when the Sandusky scandal broke.
In response to Ainslie’s arguments, De Monaco released a statement to the Centre Daily Times on Baldwin’s behalf.
“Cynthia Baldwin, as evidenced by her distinguished career and her impeccable reputation, is a person of the highest integrity,” De Monaco said. “The suggestion by anyone that Ms. Baldwin did not fulfill her ethical and professional duties to the Pennsylvania State University and its agents and administrators, or testified untruthfully, is untrue. Justice Baldwin testified before the grand jury pursuant to a subpoena and without the grant of immunity and after a hearing before the supervising judge.
“Much like the public at large, Justice Baldwin learned for the first time in the summer of 2012 about the conduct of the defendants as a result of documents and e-mails which were discussed for the first time with the release of the Freeh Report in July 2012. For those reasons, Justice Baldwin was asked about these issues when she testified before the grand jury in October 2012.
“Nevertheless, Cynthia Baldwin knows the importance of due process and how legal issues need to play out in courts of law and not in the media,” De Monaco said. “As a result, it is not her intent to publicly address facts, opinions or legal issues that are properly before the court. However, the public should be aware that Justice Baldwin's testimony is not the focus of the legal issues at trial. Justice Baldwin is not a party to these criminal proceedings, and she has not been charged with any crime. Contrary to the positions of the defendants, any testimony by Justice Baldwin will have no impact upon the very serious charges of endangering the welfare of children, failure to report, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy that have been brought against the defendants.”
Spanier, Curley and Schultz face counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, endangerment and failure to report abuse. Their lawyers have vowed to fight the case to clear their clients’ names.