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Emails: Spanier, officials shielded Sandusky in 2001

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In this Oct. 8, 2011 photo Penn State president Graham Spanier, left, and head football coach Joe Paterno chat before a football game against Iowa in University Park. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar, File)

BELLEFONTE — Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier discussed with two executives the child-sex allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago, emails show.

Spanier and retired Vice President Gary Schultz decided it would be “humane” to Sandusky not to alert police about the allegations at the center of the criminal trial that began on Monday, NBC News reported yesterday, citing internal emails provided by a source. Former athletic director Tim Curley also was part of the correspondence dating to 2001.

A Penn State spokesman said the emails were uncovered during former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s university-sanctioned investigation into how the school handled the allegations and the resulting scandal. The school sent them to the state Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting Sandusky on sex charges, and Schultz and Curley on perjury and other charges.

“In deference to the legal process, the university cannot comment further on specifics of the ongoing legal case as it unfolds,” read a university statement provided by spokesman David La Torre, who declined to answer questions. “We continue to work with the state attorney general, the U.S. attorney and Judge Freeh in their investigations into this matter.”

Spanier, Schultz and Curley could not be reached. Curley and Schultz maintain their innocence as they await trial on charges of failing to report and lying about former graduate assistant Mike McQueary’s statement that he saw Sandusky assault a boy in a shower.

“The information confirms that as they testified at the grand jury, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz conscientiously considered Mike McQueary’s reports of observing inappropriate conduct, reported it to the University President Graham Spanier, and deliberated about how to responsibly deal with the conduct and handle the situation properly,” read a statement from their lawyers, Caroline Roberto and Tom Farrell.

But the attorney general’s office, in a court filing in Schultz’s perjury case, said that it recently came into possession of emails among Schultz, Curley and others “that contradict their testimony before the grand jury.” Prosecutors said that Schultz recently turned over a file he kept relating to incidents involving Sandusky.

News of the emails came as a Centre County jury started hearing testimony in the case against Sandusky, 68, who is accused of abusing 10 boys over 15 years. The charges against Sandusky in November led university trustees to fire Spanier and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, and to ask Freeh to investigate.

Spanier last month filed a lawsuit in Centre County Court seeking to force Penn State to turn over any emails it had related to the investigation.

If Spanier tried to shield abuse concerns, an aggressive prosecutor “might consider that to broach criminality,” said Pittsburgh attorney Robert G. Del Greco Jr. He said reports of what was in the emails “seems to support suspicions … that there was more than just a failure to report.”

Spanier supporters said the idea he would not have acted swiftly to stop sexual abuse is baffling.

“I’ve always found him to be a person of integrity and a strong leader both in the academic sense and in the sense of community relations,” said Ron Filippelli, a retired faculty member and State College Borough Council member. He called Spanier “very sensitive to the needs of the community.”

TJ Bard, 21, of Greencastle, a rising senior and former University Park Undergraduate Association president, said he could not imagine that Spanier “would turn a blind eye to any child abuse.”

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