Former PSU President Graham Spanier Has Jail Sentence from Sandusky Scandal Upheld

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 26, 2021

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier walks from the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., after a hearing at Wednesday, May 26, 2021. A judge has upheld the jail sentence of Spanier who was forced out as the school's top administrator after Jerry Sandusky was arrested nearly a decade ago. The judge said Spanier must report to jail on July 9 to begin serving at least two months for endangering the welfare of children, followed by two months of house arrest. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A Pennsylvania judge ruled Wednesday former Penn State president Graham Spanier must serve a minimum of two months in jail related to his March 2017 conviction on a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of children related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press reported Judge John Boccabella ordered Spanier to serve the jail sentence followed by two months of house arrest with electronic monitoring. Other punishments include two years of probation, a $7,500 fine and 200 hours of community service. The sentence had been under appeal for the past four years.

Spanier said at Wednesday's hearing he remains a tenured faculty member at Penn State despite his resignation as president in November 2011. A school spokesperson told the AP that Spanier is on administrative leave and not currently teaching classes.

His attorney raised concerns about Spanier's health, saying he underwent open-heart surgery in September 2019 and has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but Boccabella upheld the sentence.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a statement after the ruling.

"Today marks the end of a long road towards justice for the children endangered by Mr. Spanier's inaction—choosing to cover up the abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky rather than reporting it to law enforcement," Shapiro said.

Spanier said the interactions between Sandusky and young boys was described to him as "horseplay," but he raised concerns in an email entered as evidence in the case, saying "the only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it," according to Scolforo.

Penn State administrators never reported Sandusky's abuse to police.

Boccabella ordered Spanier to begin serving his sentence July 9 at the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

"He made a mistake and he's going to pay for his mistake, but I don't consider him to be a danger to society as I would a criminal," Boccabella said.

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison in October 2012 for the sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He was resentenced to 30 to 60 years in November 2019.

Two other Penn State officials, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, were also sentenced to prison in June 2017.

The scandal led to the firing of longtime Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in November 2011. He died two months later at the age of 85.

Penn State was fined $60 million by the NCAA and the football program received a four-year postseason ban as part of the penalties from college sports' governing body.