Former Penn State president Graham Spanier told investigators hired by the university that he was never informed that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was spotted molesting a boy in a school shower, his lawyers said today as they rebutted reports that indicate the deposed official could have tried to cover up the abuse that ultimately led to coach Joe Paterno’s firing.
The attorneys said Spanier made the comments Friday to investigators for former FBI director Louis Freeh, who was hired by the university to find out what school officials, including Paterno, knew about the child molester in their midst. Freeh’s findings are expected to be released soon.
Both Spanier and the Hall of Fame coach were ousted by school trustees a few days after Sandusky was arrested in November. Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month on 45 criminal counts.
“At no time in the more than 16 years of his presidency at Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct or criminality of any kind, and he reiterated that during his interview with Louis Freeh and his colleagues,” said a statement from the lawyers, Peter Vaira and Elizabeth Ainslie.
Spanier declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press and deferred to the statement.
His comments to the Freeh group echoed his testimony before the state grand jury looking into Sandusky. That testimony concerned graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary’s report of seeing the retired defensive coordinator in the football team shower with a boy in 2001. Spanier was notified about the report by Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz, who oversaw campus police.
A grand jury report said Spanier testified that the two men came to him “to report an incident with Jerry Sandusky that made a member of Curley’s staff `uncomfortable.” The grand jury said Spanier described it as Sandusky in a football team locker room “with a younger child and that they were horsing around in the shower.”
The grand jury report said that even in April 2011 — presumably the date of his appearance before the grand jury — Spanier did not know that the staff member was McQueary.
“Spanier denied that it was reported to him as an incident that was sexual in nature and acknowledged that Curley and Schultz had not indicated any plan” to contact police or child welfare authorities, the jury said. Spanier also said he was not aware Sandusky had been investigated in 1998.