HARRISBURG -- Two Penn State University administrators are headed for trial after a public glance at dueling arguments about what they knew and whether it should have spurred them to take stronger action after allegations of child abuse.
Dauphin County District Judge William Wenner ruled Friday after three hours of testimony from witnesses at a preliminary hearing and grand jury transcripts that state prosecutors had presented a sufficient case to warrant trial for athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who retired as senior vice president of business and finance.
Each faces one count of perjury and another involving failure to report the allegations that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky abused a boy in a Penn State locker room shower.
Details that surfaced Friday at times made the courtroom audience squirm, as attorneys prodded Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary to vividly describe what he saw in the locker-room shower and brusquely questioned why he didn't call police himself.
The bar for proving that administrators lied to a grand jury about what they were told will require more than just Mr. McQueary's words as the case continues. Following the day's proceedings, counsel for the two defendants were eager to make that point.
"Perjury is an unusual type of criminal charge in Pennsylvania in that courts have held over and over that perjury cannot be just one person's word against another's," said Caroline Roberto, attorney for Mr. Curley, who is on administrative leave. "They will never be able to meet their burden of proof at a trial."
The next step will involve a formal arraignment, which is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Mr. Sandusky, who waived his case to court Tuesday, faces 52 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 children who were involved in The Second Mile, the nonprofit he ostensibly founded to assist troubled youth.
Media, though fewer in numbers than those who awaited Mr. Sandusky's hearing, still packed a Dauphin County courtroom.
The proceeding was often confusing, with the three people at the center of the case recounting frequently conflicting stories.
Mr. McQueary testified that he told Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz specifically that he saw what he believes was Mr. Sandusky molesting a boy in a locker-room shower on a Friday night in March 2002. According to grand jury testimony made public Friday, those administrators each remember the meeting differently.
Mr. Curley, 57, in his grand jury comments, said Mr. McQueary never told him that what he saw was sexual. Instead, he said Mr. Queary said it was "playful," merely "horsing around" that made the then-graduate assistant "uncomfortable."
"Some kind of wrestling-around activity and maybe Jerry grabbed his genitals," is how Mr. Schultz, 62, understood Mr. McQueary's description, he told the grand jury.
While Mr. Curley said the activity did not seem to rise to the level that required a call to police, Mr. Schultz said he believed that someone, though he did not specify who, had referred the incident to the local child protection agency.
The two men also gave varying accounts of where their initial meeting with head football coach Joe Paterno about Mr. McQueary's report took place: Mr. Curley told grand jurors they met at Mr. Paterno's home, while Mr. Schultz recalled their conversation taking place in his own office.
Prosecutors seized on apparent inconsistencies between Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz.
Meanwhile, Ms. Roberto and Tom Farrell, counsel for Mr. Schultz, asked pointed questions to parse the words Mr. McQueary used in recounting the incident to his father, John McQueary, that evening as well as others in the following weeks.
"I don't know if I used the word 'intercourse,' but my father knows what happened in the shower," he replied.
The 37-year-old McQueary spoke calmly for much of the two hours he spent on the witness stand, though his voice began to sound somewhat strained as lawyers repeated queries about his word choices.
"There's no question in my mind that I conveyed to them that I saw Jerry in the shower with a boy and that there were severe sexual acts going on and it was wrong and over the line," he said.
In what was his first public discussion of what he allegedly saw, Mr. McQueary described a slew of emotions. The "slapping" sounds he heard as he entered the locker room "alarmed" and "embarrassed" him, he testified.
"I thought some activity was happening in the showers that I really didn't want to be a part of," Mr. McQueary said, adding that he felt "shocked, horrified [and] distraught" after two brief glances into the shower where he viewed Mr. Sandusky standing naked behind a young boy.
After slamming his locker door, he turned a third time, taking steps toward the shower area. At that point, he stated, the boy and Mr. Sandusky were "four to five feet apart" and both made eye contact.
He didn't see sexual penetration or hear yelling, nor did he or either of the figures speak, Mr. McQueary said. At that point, he left and telephoned his father.
The elder McQueary, one of four other witnesses, said his son's voice was quivering. He told his son to report what he'd seen directly to Mr. Paterno.
Sitting at Mr. Paterno's kitchen table the next morning, Mr. McQueary said he told his mentor and role model that what he saw was "very sexual in nature."
"Out of respect" for Mr. Paterno, Mr. McQueary said, he avoided using words like "sodomy." He acknowledged that his description was not graphic or specific.
In speaking to the grand jury earlier this year, Mr. Paterno recounted that he "did not push Mike because he was upset." The coach also said he waited several days to contact his superiors because he "didn't want to interfere with people's weekends."
In his meeting with Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz about nine or 10 days later, Mr. McQueary said he described the locker-room encounter in detail, saying both Mr. Sandusky and the boy were naked and sexual activity was occurring.
Asked if he thought about calling the police, Mr. McQueary said he thought he had gone to "the head of the police," meaning Mr. Schultz, whose role included overseeing the university's force.
"It was delicate in nature, and I tried to use my best judgment," he said.
His father also reached out to Mr. Schultz to reinforce his son's account. The vice president later replied that investigators found nothing they could "sink their teeth into," the elder McQueary testified.
A few days later, the younger Mr. McQueary said, Mr. Curley told him the university had directed Mr. Sandusky to no longer bring children to campus and that they had briefed The Second Mile, a facility Mr. Sandusky founded for troubled youths.
In the grand jury narrative, investigators focused on that conclusion, asking the administrators why they found the incidents severe enough to inform university president Graham Spanier and The Second Mile, but not law enforcement officials.
Mr. Curley said in his testimony he never referred the matter to police because he didn't think a crime had occurred.
At that point, Mr. Curley said, he was unaware of any other allegations against Mr. Sandusky. He did not ask Mr. Sandusky for the boy's name nor did he pursue it later, he said.
Mr. Schultz, on the other hand, was aware of a 1998 investigation involving Mr. Sandusky showering with another young boy.
He said the other case never resulted in charges, and his view was that it was best to refer the case to county child protective services.
"It was appropriate for them to do that, not me," Mr. Schultz stated. "I wasn't doing an investigation."
After Friday's ruling, attorneys for Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz reiterated their clients' innocence and predicted they would prevail at trial.
Mr. Farrell said it was clear from the actions of all parties involved that Mr. McQueary made only "vague, general allegations of inappropriate conduct, perhaps of a sexual nature."
But Senior Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo countered that the four witnesses and grand jury transcripts presented by the prosecution were "a subset of all the evidence we have," and denounced the conduct of Penn State administrators in the case.
"It's a sad, sad, sad day when you think about all of these victims. You just got the first taste of it today," he told reporters. "You saw the inaction today by a number of very supposedly important, responsible adults."