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Crime and Law Enforcement

Arguments Begin In Spanier Trial

Graham Spanier walking up courthouse stairs, surrounded by TV cameras
Matt Rourke
AP Photo

(Harrisburg) – Both the prosecution and defense have begun laying out their arguments in day two of the trial of Graham Spanier—the former Penn State president whose tenure included the years assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky serially abused young children.

The case being set up revolves around whether Spanier’s decision not to inform child protective services of Sandusky’s abuse was criminal—or just a bad judgment call.

The state prosecutor began his opening statement with a thump on the lectern. “The only thing necessary for evil to thrive,” he said, “is for men to do nothing.”

He said Sandusky—who sexually abused young boys time and time again—is that evil. And he added that by not reporting the crime to Child Protective Services, Spanier and his colleagues let it happen.

Spanier’s defense argued there was no conspiracy to keep the Sandusky situation quiet, noting Spanier and others did take action they thought was appropriate—whether or not it looks good in retrospect.

Among the key witnesses the prosecution plans to call this week are former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley, who already took plea deals for lesser charges.

There will also be testimony from an unnamed victim of Sandusky, who was abused after Spanier and the others knew about the situation. 

Spanier declined a plea deal.

He is charged with three felony counts—two of endangering the welfare of children, and one of conspiring to do so.  

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