Three former Penn State University officials, including ousted former president Graham Spanier, were ordered to stand trial Tuesday on criminal charges related to an alleged cover-up that temporarily shielded convicted child predator and former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky from law enforcement scrutiny.
Following two days of testimony, a Pennsylvania judge ordered Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz to face perjury, conspiracy, failure to report suspected child abuse and other related charges in a decision that opens another grim chapter in a scandal that rocked the state’s largest university.
Magisterial District Judge William Wenner said it was “a tragic day for Penn State University.”
The decision comes slightly more than a year after Sandusky, a once-revered figure on the Penn State campus, was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 victims during a period of 15 years. He has been sentenced to serve at least 30 years in prison, a term that virtually assures — barring a successful appeal — that the 69-year-old former coach will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
All three officials have denied any wrongdoing. Spanier’s attorney, Timothy Lewis, declined to comment late Tuesday. The attorneys for Curley and Schultz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case largely centers on the testimony of Michael McQueary, a former football assistant coach, who testified that in 2001 he saw Sandusky engaging in a sexual act with a young boy in the showers of a university locker room.
The next day, McQueary testified, he reported the incident to Joe Paterno, then the head football coach and the public face of the sprawling university. McQueary said he later reported the incident to Schultz and Curley.
Schultz and Curley have asserted that McQueary did not indicate the activity was sexual in nature. And Spanier has said his communications with Schultz and Curley did not include descriptions of sexually charged conduct by the coach.
Although a decision was made, at that time, to ban Sandusky from bringing children into campus facilities, no report was made to police.
Penn State spokesman David LaTorre declined to comment on the court decision.
Contributing: The Associated Press