Lawyers in Penn State case rip prosecution
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Defense attorneys for former Penn State University administrators charged with failing to report alleged sexual abuse accused the state attorney general's office Tuesday of "grasping at straws."
Attorneys for former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz have argued for months that the charge of failure to report should be dismissed because the statute of limitations has expired. The men are also charged with one count of perjury related to their testimony before a grand jury.
The parties were supposed to argue the statute of limitations issue in Dauphin County Common Pleas Court last month, but the day before the hearing, Deputy Attorney General Bruce Beemer filed a new motion, asserting the statute was not expired because the failure of the men to report alleged abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was a continuing course of conduct.
In their response filed Tuesday, defense attorneys Caroline Roberto and Tom Farrell argue that the statute does not impose a continuing duty "days, months or years into the future." Instead, they referred to the prosecution's theory as a "strained interpretation" of the law.
The attorney general's office initially argued that instead of the two-year statute of limitations for the offense, Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz faced a 10-year statute of limitations because of an exception for public employees. That 10-year time period would have been met by the charge as it was initially filed in November, as prosecutors alleged the Penn State administrators found out about the violation in February 2002.
However, just before Mr. Sandusky went to trial in June, the attorney general's office amended the charges, and changed the date of the sex assault of a child in the Penn State locker room showers, witnessed by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, to February 2001. The change in date would have meant even the 10-year statute of limitations would fail.
"Instead of acting with caution and filing the summary offense nearer to the date of McQueary's first interview in November 2010, it waited a year and filed the charge in conjunction with the more serious and sensational charges against Jerry Sandusky," defense attorneys wrote. "The blatant attempt to place our clients near the center of the Sandusky maelstrom may have garnered the hoped-for publicity but the choice to delay the filing of the summary offense has real consequences for the legal survival of Count 2."
On Tuesday, Penn State announced its costs for legal fees, consultants and public relations firms hired to help deal with the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal have reached nearly $17 million. The university is also facing lawsuits from his accusers while the NCAA leveled a $60 million fine against the school in July.
First Published September 5, 2012 12:00 am