In recent news coverage of the Graham Spanier trial verdict, David Jones, Penn State trustee emeritus, stood by the board’s 2011 decisions, arguing that even if the Spanier verdict is overturned on appeal, it would not discredit their decision, “which was not based on criminality.” Another news source, Alison Kiss, executive director of the Clery Center, remarked that in her view, “It’s very clear that they could have done more.”
Widely reported, also, was testimony from Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Both Curley and Schultz, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the case. But under oath at trial, they both acknowledged that they had acted in good faith given the information they had at the time. There was never any criminal intent.
There are two common themes running through these comments: Everyone seems to understand that the decision not to report Jerry Sandusky’s showering with a boy in 2001 wasn’t criminal, and all still seem to believe that punishment on criminal charges is still appropriate.
I find that incredibly alarming, if not downright frightening.
Especially now that the jury foreman has publicly expressed regret over his verdict decision, I urge everyone to put away their torches and pitchforks and think about the standard for criminal conviction — guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you still want to hold people criminally accountable for actions that aren’t criminal, realize that you sacrifice these rights for yourself and your loved ones, who could one day face the same brand of “Wild West” justice.
Linda Berkland, Marysville, Ohio