A report Monday of email exchanges among high-ranking Penn State University officials discussing allegations of child molestation and deciding not to tell outside authorities could lead to charges against Graham Spanier, who resigned as the university's president in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh, whose team of investigators was tapped by a special university committee after Mr. Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was charged with multiple counts of child sex abuse, said in a statement that he has turned the emails over to the state attorney general's office, "consistent with the investigation's prior commitment to share certain information."
Mr. Freeh's statement was issued in response to the report by NBC, citing law enforcement sources, that Mr. Spanier; Tim Curley, who is on administrative leave as Penn State's athletic director; and Gary Schultz, the former senior vice president for finance and business, exchanged emails discussing whether to tell authorities about an encounter between Mr. Sandusky and a young boy in a locker room shower witnessed by Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant for the football team.
Previously, Mr. McQueary testified to a grand jury that he saw the boy in the shower naked with Mr. Sandusky after he went into the locker room to retrieve his shoes. Mr. McQueary testified that he believed Mr. Sandusky was molesting the boy and "having some type of sexual intercourse with him."
He said he relayed what he saw to then head coach Joe Paterno, Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz. The two administrators then relayed the report to Mr. Spanier, who said it was described to him as "horsing around" and not something sexual.
In the exchange, NBC said the three weighed whether to tell local authorities what Mr. McQueary had said, though it's still not clear if Mr. Spanier knew the full extent of what the graduate assistant said he witnessed.
Additionally, NBC reported that internal documents reveal that legal research was done to determine whether the university officials were required to report the incident. In the end, Mr. Spanier and Mr. Schultz concluded it would be "humane" to Mr. Sandusky not to relay Mr. McQueary's report to local authorities, according to NBC.
Mr. Schultz and Mr. Curley, who heard Mr. McQueary's account directly, are facing trial on charges they failed to report the incident to the proper authorities and that they lied to a grand jury about it.
Mr. Spanier has not been charged, but he signed off on Mr. Schultz's plan to take away Mr. Sandusky's keys to campus facilities.
Last November, when asked whether Mr. Spanier would be charged, Attorney General Linda Kelly said the investigation was ongoing. Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the attorney general, declined to comment Monday.
In a statement, attorneys Caroline Roberto and Tom Farrell, who are representing Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz, respectively, said the emails bolster their claim that their clients acted properly -- and within the law.
"The information [in the NBC report] confirms that, as they testified at the grand jury, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz conscientiously considered Mike McQueary's reports of observing inappropriate conduct, reported it to the University President Graham Spanier, and deliberated about how to responsibly deal with the conduct and handle the situation properly," the statement said.
Penn State officials confirmed that Mr. Freeh's team discovered emails and turned them over the attorney general's office, but declined further comment.
"In deference to the legal process, the University cannot comment further on specifics of the ongoing legal case as it unfolds," spokesman David La Torre wrote in a statement.
Mr. Spanier's attorney, Timothy K. Lewis, also declined comment about the emails.
The former president has sued the university to get copies of emails, which he said will refresh his memory for when he is called to testify in Mr. Sandusky's trial.
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. Associated Press contributed. First Published June 12, 2012 4:00 AM