More charges may lie ahead in Penn State's child sex abuse scandal
Prosecutors consider Paterno in clear, but decline to comment on the university's president
November 8, 2011 10:15 AM
Matt Rourke/Associated Press
Penn State athletic director Tim Curley outside the district justice?s office in Harrisburg, where he was arraigned Monday.
Daniel Shanken/Associated Press
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly on Monday discusses the details surrounding the case of Penn State former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and allegations against him of sex abuse crimes involving young boys.
Jason Plotkin/York Daily Record
Former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz outside the district justice?s office in Harrisburg, where he was arraigned Monday.
By Laura Olson and Tom Barnes Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- State prosecutors on Monday left open the possibility of filing additional charges and discovering other victims in the still unfolding Penn State University child sex abuse scandal.
Those officials indicated that head football coach Joe Paterno may be clear of legal consequences, but declined to similarly absolve university president Graham Spanier of wrongdoing.
State Attorney General Linda Kelly, in her first news conference since taking over that office, repeatedly said work continues on the investigation that resulted in criminal sexual charges against Jerry Sandusky, the university's former football defensive coordinator.
"I don't think it would be beyond the realm of possibility that there are other victims that exist here," Ms. Kelly said.
While she and state police commissioner Frank Noonan shied away from saying the explosion of media coverage since Saturday's announcement of charges has led to new leads, they both urged any other possible victims or those with additional information to contact state investigators.
"At least now there's not this cover of secrecy that I think is so oppressive to the children victims," said Mr. Noonan, who worked in the attorney general's office on the case prior to his current role.
"That's what is oppressive -- who is going to believe them? Nobody. That's the way they feel."
Mr. Sandusky, 67, is charged with sexually assaulting at least eight boys who participated in The Second Mile, a youth organization that he founded. The incidents span from 1994, when he was still coaching at Penn State, through 2008, after Mr. Sandusky had retired and continued to use the school's facilities.
Also facing charges are two top university officials, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. Prosecutors say they failed to report a 2002 incident involving one of the children and later provided false information to a grand jury.
Mr. Curley, 57, and Mr. Schultz, 62, were released Monday following an arraignment hearing in Dauphin County. As with Mr. Sandusky's counsel, their attorneys maintained that the men are innocent.
"The evidence will show that he reported what he knew up the chain of command," to Mr. Spanier and to the nonprofit's director, said Caroline Roberto, Mr. Curley's lawyer.
The questions of who knew which details when and what their responsibility was to report those specifics to law enforcement will be pivotal as the case heads to trial.
Both Mr. Spanier and Mr. Paterno were made aware of the 2002 incident in which a graduate assistant said he saw Mr. Sandusky sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in a locker room shower.
The assistant, now identified as Mike McQueary, told Mr. Paterno, who in turn told Mr. Curley that the former coach was seen "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy," according to the grand jury presentment.
After the assistant related the incident to Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz, the athletic director later told Mr. Spanier about their decision to not allow Mr. Sandusky to bring children to the school.
Ms. Kelly described Mr. Paterno as being "cooperative" with prosecutors. He is not viewed as a target, she said.
"We believe that under the statute he had a responsibility to report it to school administrators, and he did that," she said.
Under the state's Child Protective Services Law, certain medical officials, school administrators, clergy, child-care workers and others are required to report anything that creates a suspicion of child abuse.
Those figures are required to report details to the person in charge at their institution, who is then responsible to call state welfare officials.
But Mr. Noonan spoke more sharply about the burden on the legendary coach and others familiar with the incidents to inform police. He angrily noted that a 1998 investigation led to an admission by Mr. Sandusky that he had acted inappropriately, but that no further action was taken.
"I don't think I've ever been associated with a case with this type of eyewitness identification of sex acts taking place where the police weren't called," said Mr. Noonan, later adding that all citizens have a "moral responsibility."
Others, including a victim advocate in Dauphin County, echoed that view of a broader responsibility.
"I firmly believe that Penn State officials -- including Coach Paterno and President Graham Spanier -- failed in their duties to report these heinous crimes to authorities," said Jennifer Storm, of the county's victim and witness program. "They had clear knowledge of Sandusky's behavior since 1998, and never did one thing to protect the victims. Instead, they protected themselves and their institution."
Ms. Kelly said law enforcement does distinguish between moral and legal guilt, but declined to draw any conclusions on the current case: "I'm not going to comment on morality," Ms. Kelly said.
She also wouldn't rule out Mr. Spanier as someone still under the investigation's spotlight.
"All I can say is, again, I'm limited to what's contained in the presentment, and that this is an ongoing investigation," Ms. Kelly said.
Mr. Spanier released a statement on Saturday calling the allegations "troubling," but that he has confidence in his administrators' actions.
Meanwhile, a hoard of television cameras awaited Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz on Monday afternoon when they arrived for arraignment at a district judge's office in suburban Harrisburg.
The two men face two counts each of perjury and failure to report a child endangerment. Each was released on $75,000 bail.
Neither man entered a formal plea Monday. A preliminary hearing will be held later this month.
Mr. Curley, tall and thin, with gray hair and glasses, appeared at the arraignment with his wife. Mr. Schultz, shorter and with light brown hair, was alone.
The two men, who have no previous criminal history, didn't say anything inside or outside of the court hearing, which lasted 20 minutes.
Afterward, however, both defense lawyers blasted the attorney general and argued that their clients acted appropriately upon what they were told.
"It's unconscionable that the attorney general would level such a weak case against a man of integrity like Tim Curley," said Ms. Roberto. "A perjury charge is a red flag that the charges against him are weak. It's a distraction. After 18 months of investigation, if this is all the attorney general could bring, we are ready to fight this case and win."
Mr. Schultz's attorney, Thomas Farrell, called the charges against his client "a disappointment. Rather than following the law, the attorney general is creating a fiction. This child [endangerment] law doesn't apply in this case."
Mr. Farrell also said his client reported the 2002 locker room shower incident to his superiors.
"He did exactly what Mr. McQueary and Mr. Paterno did," Mr. Farrell said, which was to report the assistant's allegation to superiors. Yet those two men weren't charged, he said, adding, "There is no reason why he should be charged with this summary offense" of failure to report.
The lawyers asked that no bail be required. But in calling the charges "disturbing," the judge set bail at $75,000 "unsecured," meaning they only had to sign their name to be released.
Mr. Sandusky's case will be prosecuted in Centre County, where Penn State is located. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
Prosecutors noted several times that the investigation is ongoing as the three men head to trial. They said the six identified and two unknown children may not be the only victims, and urged anyone with further information to contact them.
Investigators with the Office of Attorney General can be reached at 814-863-1053, and the state police can be contacted at 814-470-2238.