Ex-Penn State President Graham Spanier Accused of Covering up Sandusky Abuses

VIDEO: Pennsylvania AG announces charges against Graham Spanier and other former university officials.PlayABCNEWS.com
WATCH Ex-Penn State President Charged in Child Abuse Case

State prosecutors today charged Penn State's former president with perjury and child endangerment, accusing him of overseeing a cover-up that allowed convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky to prey on nearly a dozen children for years.

Calling it a "conspiracy of silence," Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly accused former university president Graham Spanier and two other administration officials of "working to conceal the truth" and "an absolute disregard to the safety of minor children."

"If these men had done what they were supposed to do…several young men would not have been attacked by a serial predator," Kelly said, accusing the men of "turning a blind eye" and failing to alert authorities after they had been alerted of Sandusky's activities in 1998 and again in 2001.

In July, Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was convicted on 45 counts of abuse against 10 boys. Several of those incidents occurred on Penn State's campus, including in a locker room and shower.

Gary Schultz, a former college vice president, and Tim Curley, the ex-director of athletics, had previously been charged with perjury and failing to report child abuse.

All three men are now accused of those two counts, as well as criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice and child endangerment.

Kelly said emails among the three men indicated they knew of two incidents of alleged abuse on campus, failed to report them to law enforcement and sought to protect Sandusky.

Spanier was similarly accused of overseeing a cover-up by an independent investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh. That report had no legal standing, but following its release in August, Spanier vehemently denied the charges.

"Never in my time as president of Penn State did I ever receive a report or even a hint that Jerry Sandusky was engaged in child abuse, a sexual act, criminal activity or anything resembling that with any child. Had I known that, or even suspected it, I would have forcefully intervened. But I never heard a report like that," he told ABC News at the time.

Prosecutors say Spanier knew about at least two incidents in which Sandusky was accused of abuse. One took place in 1998, when the mother of a boy known as Victim 6 reported her son had been attacked in a campus locker room.

In 2001, Spanier was copied on emails about another incident, witnessed by assistant coach Mike McQueary who heard sexual noises and saw an underage boy with Sandusky in the shower.

In those emails Curley and Schultz proposed not alerting the authorities but instead letting Sandusky off with a warning and the promise that he would get "professional help," according to the Freeh report.

Spanier agreed to that plan, the Freeh report said. However, he noted in an email that by not bringing the accusations to police they would be "vulnerable for not having reported it."

McQueary first reported the incident to football head coach Joe Paterno, an icon on campus who died in January. Kelly said she would not speculate on whether Paterno would have been prosecuted were he alive.

Spanier's lawyers responded to the charges, by denying the accusation that he knew anything more about the incidents other than they what had been described to him as "horseplay." His lawyers characterized the prosecution a "desperate" politically motivated frame job.

"There is no factual basis to support these charges," Spanier's lawyers said in a statement. "Graham Spanier has committed no crime and looks forward to the opportunity to clear his good name and well-earned national reputation for integrity. This Presentment is a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man."

Echoing the language of the presentment, Spanier's lawyers accuse Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbette, himself a Penn State trustee, of trying to cover up Sandusky's crimes by passing the blame to the former administrators.

"Today's Presentment is the latest desperate act by Gov. Tom Corbett to cover up and divert attention away from the fact that he failed to warn the Penn State community about the suspicions surrounding Jerry Sandusky, and instead knowingly allowed a child predator to roam free in Pennsylvania," they said in the statement. "These charges are the work of a vindictive and politically motivated Governor."