Two former high-level Penn State administrators pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment, for their roles in covering up child sex abuse by disgraced assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley each took a plea bargain that — if accepted by the judge — will carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. As part of the plea bargain, the felony charges they originally faced were reduced to misdemeanors.
As Penn Live notes, the pleas also open the possibility they may testify against former university President Graham Spanier, the only remaining defendant in the case. Jury selection begins next week for Spanier, who has been charged with a conspiracy felony and a child endangerment misdemeanor.
The charges against all three men pertain to how they handled the multiple allegations of sexual abuse against Sandusky, who in 2012 was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span. "Prosecutors said Spanier, Curley and Schultz knew of complaints involving Sandusky showering with boys in 1998 and 2001," The Associated Press reported in 2012.
The Philadelphia Inquirer explains that the case against all three men has hinged partly on emails that allegedly reveal their knowledge of the incidents:
"A series of 2001 emails — now key to the government's case — show that the men at least considered the situation serious enough to possibly warrant police intervention. They ultimately rejected the idea of calling authorities, opting instead to bar Sandusky from bringing children on campus, to urge the former coach to submit to counseling and to inform his children's charity, the Second Mile, of the allegations."
"This was not a mistake by these men, this was not an oversight," then-Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said in 2012, as we noted at the time. "It was not misjudgment on their part. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth."
Spanier, who led Penn State's administration for 16 years and now faces charges including perjury and obstruction of justice, has maintained his innocence.
"As I have stated in the clearest possible terms, at no time during my presidency did anyone ever report to me that Jerry Sandusky was observed abusing a child or youth or engaged in a sexual act with a child or a youth," he wrote in a 2012 letter to trustees, according to the Inquirer.
The 73-year-old Sandusky, for his part, is serving a term of 30 to 60 years in prison. The AP reports that was recently transferred from a maximum-security prison to a medium-security prison in western Pennsylvania.