Spanier Pleads His Case With Penn State Board

, The Legal Intelligencer


Former Penn State President Graham Spanier wrote a letter to the university's board of trustees Sunday to say the findings of Louis B. Freeh's investigation into the university's handling of allegations against Jerry Sandusky was fraught with factual errors.

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What's being said

  • Peter S. Chamberlain

    “No one in the audience [at the Pennsylvania Capitol Press Club luncheon which featured [Penn State President Graham Spanier] as the keynote speaker] knew of the turmoil that was about to hit just weeks later with the release of the grand jury report on the Sandusky child sexual abuse allegations and indictments. If they did, they weren’t saying. But as I sat in that Harrisburg Hilton ballroom as Spanier spoke, I was thinking about his troubling response to a pointed question from a Democratic lawmaker more than 10 years ago in a House budget hearing. Said Spanier: “I’m not understanding what you mean by wrong.” The entire report of that public meeting and statement by Spanier, whose doctoral dissertation was on wife-swapping, the subject of the question from a Democratic lawmaker that prompted that reply from Spanier, suggesting one more compelling reason why he knew or should have known to investigate more deeply and to make reports Freeh correctly notes were required by state and federal law, can be found at: Last Visited 7-24-12 One can only wish that Louis Freeh had been provided, had indicated that he had received, and had dealt with, this information, relevant and material to the conduct of Spanier and the culture at the university which Freeh says was largely responsible for the violations of state and federal reporting laws, in his 267 page report, available on line. As a retired attorney who had, very unexpectedly, found myself deeply involved, professionally and in other privileged and confidential relationships, with child and adult survivors of mostly incestuous sexual child abuse, many of whom, mental health law being another of my areas of experience and expertise, I was appointed to represent following suicide attempts and other things linked to this traumatic history, which had led me to take courses in this dark subject from recognized experts, I am all too personally well aware of the pressures not to report and the difficulties of getting action when you do, [and see “Attorney as Mandatory Reporter” in the Texas Bar Journal available on line, but, reading the Freeh report and some of its cited sources, etc., I don’t think the lawyers are anywhere close to blameless and wonder whether, or why, the Pennsylvania State Bar has not opened an investigation, except that, in my experience, those with the right political connections and influence are rarely investigated or disciplined for their misconduct. This whole thing, including the attorneys’ role and responsibility in it, plays out like some Biblical or Greek tragedy. If Paterno, Spanier, the University’s lawyers, etc., had followed the intent of the applicable state and federal laws, legal ethics, and common decency, these crimes would have been stopped quickly--I’ve lived in State College and had lots of contact with Penn State over years after that, and one call from Joe Paterno or Spanier, or the others, about a cat up a tree would have drawn a full and immediate response. Their and the lawyers putting the violation of those laws and the cover-up in Emails and leaving them available is just the icing on that bitter cake. Knowing and being able to act upon the difference between right and wrong is the core of the usual definition of sanity and legal insanity. I have lost the citation to the article about the survey, not of defendants but of prospective jurors, in which roughly half of them, like Spanier, said there was no such thing as objective right and wrong. Having tried cases up through non-capital murder and a lot with mental and culpable mental state issues, I have a king-size picture of either side trying to pick a jury for a sanity hearing, from a venire on which half the prospective jurors don’t believe there is any such thing as objective right and wrong.

  • Robert A

    Leave it alone, every attempt to minimize your role makes you appear uglier Simply put when the question of child abuse should always be handled by police officer trained in such practice. Why a president of such a strong institution would require absolute proof on a criminal referral defies logic and reason

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