Offensive defense: Spanier should save his pleading for the judge
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He's picking on me." It's the fallback position of a defensive child, and it too often is the auto-response from a public figure accused of betraying the public's trust.
That's what attorneys for Graham Spanier offered immediately after the former Penn State University president was charged Thursday with thwarting the investigation into former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who since has been convicted of a long pattern of sexually abusing boys.
In a statement, the lawyers said Mr. Spanier is innocent of the eight counts, which include perjury, obstruction of justice, failure to report suspected child abuse and endangering the welfare of children. They attacked Gov. Tom Corbett and his successor as state attorney general, claiming the charges are politically motivated.
One of their assertions was that Mr. Spanier took Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato, a Penn State alum who lost to the Republican Mr. Corbett, to a home football game during the campaign. If Mr. Corbett were that thin-skinned and quick to bring allegations, it's probably safe to say that every Democrat in Pennsylvania would have been charged with something during his eight-year tenure as the state's chief prosecutor.
As it was, a fair number of both Democrats and Republicans were removed from power and transferred to state prisons due to Mr. Corbett's aggressive stance against corruption. Nearly all of them also claimed, at least initially, that their prosecutions were the result of a political vendetta.
So Mr. Spanier's offensive defense is nothing new. And as serious as the abuse of legislative power and taxpayers' hard-earned dollars by elected officials was, the scandals of government pale compared to the unconscionable cover-up alleged against Mr. Spanier and two of his administrators, former vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley.
All three men contest the charges against them, and offering a vigorous defense is a right and a privilege of our judicial system. At this point, though, they should save their explanations for a judge and let the legal system do its work. When that is over, they can spin all the conspiracy theories they like.
First Published November 5, 2012 12:00 am