Former Penn State President Graham Spanier Guilty; Sandusky Child Endangering

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Matt Rourke / AP

Earlier today, a jury found former Penn State president Graham Spanier guilty of one misdemeanor charge of child endangerment for his involvement in the Jerry Sandusky coverup. However, Spanier was found not guilty on two other charges he was facing – another charge of child endangerment and a felony conspiracy charge. Spanier was found guilty of only one misdemeanor child endangerment charge because the state was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Spanier knowingly placed children in danger or that he actively conspired to avoid reporting Sandusky to law enforcement.

After the jury of seven women and five men made their decision, Spanier was allowed to leave the courtroom free on bail. Former athletic director, Tim Curley and former senior vice president Gary Schultz both reached plea deals earlier this month and subsequently their charges of endangering the welfare of children were reduced from felonies to misdemeanors. Spanier, who has long declared his innocence, did not want to strike a plea deal.

Sam Silver, Spanier’s attorney said, “Graham Spanier agreed to a plan (to deal with Jerry Sandusky) that he believed to be appropriate in light of the facts presented to him.” Silver argued that Spanier did “the best he could” with a bad situation and that the prosecution was “trying to criminalize a judgment call,” per PennLive.

Graham Spanier in Dauphin County Court Monday.
Illustration by Scott Robbins, PennLive

The infamous Jerry Sandusky case began in 2002 when Mike McQueary, a Penn Sate graduate assistant at the time, walked in on Sandusky sexually abusing a ten-year-old boy. McQueary reported the incident to former head football coach Joe Paterno who then reported it to Curley.  Next, Curley reported it to Schultz. But all of them failed to report it to law enforcement or child protective services.

According to PennLive, Spanier faces “a minimum sentence later this spring that — for most first-time offenders — falls between probation and 9 months in prison, but could range higher.”

In regards to Pennsylvania law for endangering the welfare of children, the law states

§ 4304.  Endangering welfare of children.

(a)  Offense defined.–

(1)  A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support.

(2)  A person commits an offense if the person, in an official capacity, prevents or interferes with the making of a report of suspected child abuse under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective services).

(3)  As used in this subsection, the term “person supervising the welfare of a child” means a person other than a parent or guardian that provides care, education, training or control of a child.

(b)  Grading.–An offense under this section constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree. However, where there is a course of conduct of endangering the welfare of a child, the offense constitutes a felony of the third degree.

Thankfully, we are almost at the end of the line when it comes to the Jerry Sandusky case. Although Sandusky was recently moved from a maximum security prison to a medium security prison. However the scars inflicted on the victims and their families will likely last a lifetime.

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