Penn State ex-President Spanier arraigned, released on bail
HARRISBURG — A judge on Wednesday arraigned former Penn State University President Graham Spanier and released him on bail at a brief court appearance on charges he lied about and concealed child sex abuse allegations involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Spanier, accompanied by his wife, signed paperwork after his bail was set at $125,000, but he was not required to post any of that amount. District Judge William Wenner ordered him to forfeit his passport and be fingerprinted. Spanier didn’t enter a plea.
Defense attorney Elizabeth Ainslie told reporters her client is “not guilty, absolutely” and disputed prosecutors’ claims Spanier conspired with athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. She said Spanier, who testified before a grand jury in the matter, has not been given the opportunity to present his side of the story.
“This wasn’t a conspiracy of silence,” she said, echoing the charge made last week by state Attorney General Linda Kelly. “That is ridiculous.”
Authorities last week charged Spanier, 64, with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to report suspected abuse and conspiracy for his actions in response to complaints about Sandusky showering with children. Spanier has claimed he is being framed for political purposes.
He served as Penn State’s president for 16 years but was forced out a year ago after Sandusky was charged along with Curley and Schultz, who were two of Spanier’s top underlings. Spanier is on paid leave as a member of the faculty.
Along with the charges against Spanier, prosecutors added counts against Curley and Schultz. They were arraigned Thursday. Wenner told Spanier and his lawyers the Nov. 16 preliminary hearing date would likely be delayed a month or two.
A jury in June convicted Sandusky, 68, of 45 counts of abuse of boys, including some at campus facilities. He was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Spanier’s lawyers put out a statement last week that accused Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general when the investigation began, of orchestrating the charges to divert attention from questions about why it took three years to bring charges against Sandusky. They said there was no factual basis for the Spanier charges and said the grand jury report was “a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man.”
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley called the claims ”the ranting of a man who has just been indicted for covering up for a convicted pedophile. His arrogance reveals a man who has just found out that he is not above the law after all.”