One of Penn State’s trustees has sparked outrage after saying he is “running out of sympathy” for the “so-called victims” of convicted child molester and former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Speaking to the Chronicle of Higher Education, trustee Albert Lord also seemed to imply that the victims of Sandusky had benefited financially from their allegations and insisted that former Penn State president Graham Spanier did not know about Sandusky’s crimes, despite the fact that Spanier was recently convicted on one count of child endangerment for his role in the scandal.
In an email sent to the Chronicle on Saturday, Lord said he was “Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth. Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”
Spanier was found innocent Friday on charges of conspiracy and another count of child endangerment, but the split verdict could still result in a $10,000 fine and five years in jail, per the Centre Daily Times. Other former top university officials have previously pleaded guilty for not reporting Sandusky’s abuse earlier. Sandusky himself was convicted in 2012 on 45 of 48 charges of child sex abuse crimes. The scandal rocked Penn State and its football program, resulting in settlements of roughly $93 million for 30-plus victims, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Lord, a former CEO of student loan company Sallie Mae, was elected by alumni to serve on Penn State’s board of trustees in 2014, per USA Today. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he has a history of controversial and aggressive statements, telling analysts on an earnings call in 2007, “there’s no questions. Let's get the [expletive] out of here.”
While Lord also has a history of generous political donations to both Republicans and Democrats, per the Inquirer, he supported former Pennsylvania politician Rob McCord for governor in 2014. McCord, who later pleaded guilty to charges of extortion in 2015, testified that Lord supported his bid because he also supported Spanier and because the incumbent Republican governor, Tom Corbett, had been attorney general as the state investigated Sandusky and other Penn State administrators.
Lord wanted to “shaft” Corbett in the election, McCord said. He also claimed Lord asked him to help his bid to become a university trustee, but that McCord declined. The governor of Pennsylvania appoints six members of the board. Lord denied this charge to the Inquirer and said he won his seat independently.
At the moment, Lord is facing an alumni election that will end on May 4. He is one of five candidates for three seats.
“Al Lord’s comments are personal and do not represent the opinions of the board or the university,” Ira M. Lubert, the chairman of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement to the Chronicle. “The sentiments of the board and university leadership were expressed in the very first line of the statement released by Penn State: First and foremost, our thoughts remain with the victims of Jerry Sandusky.”