Former Penn State president Spanier heads to trial today


Almost five years after being charged with trying to cover up the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, former Penn State President Graham Spanier heads to trial today. Jury selection is set to begin in a Dauphin County courtroom.

“I anticipate it's going to be a very long slow process,” said Harrisburg defense attorney Amanda Batz.

It's been a long, winding road that could come closer to an end when Graham Spanier walks through the doors of the Dauphin County Courthouse. Five years, dozens of court filings, a Superior Court decision and the guilty pleas of two close friends, will culminate with a trial set to begin today.

Spanier faces multiple charges of conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children. He is charged with knowing and not doing anything about Jerry Sandusky and his sexual abuse of children on Penn State's campus during his tenure as an assistant football coach.

“He may not believe that the Attorney General’s office can prove its case to a jury,” Batz said.

Amanda Batz is a criminal defense attorney in Harrisburg who is following this case closely. She believes the trial could take a while, starting with today's jury selection process.

“Child endangerment, involving pretty horrific charges that Sandusky was convicted of, I think that makes a lot of people nervous especially when they realize they're going to have to make a decision based on the people that may or may have not protected Sandusky and ignored the problem,” Batz said.

The whole case began in November of 2011 when Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing several kids. More than a year after the original charges, Spanier, former PSU Vice-President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley were hauled in, charged with covering up their knowledge of Sandusky's activities.

Just last week, Curley and Schultz plead guilty to a single charge of endangering the welfare, setting up the potential for them to testify against their former boss.

“You have the gentleman who were involved from day one and they are going to testify against him in the hope of getting favorable treatment from the Attorney General’s office and from the courts when they're ultimately sentenced,” said Batz.

Spanier has declared his innocence since day one. Whatever the verdict, Batz says it could provide some closure for the Penn State community.

“It would be nice for Penn State, for the trustees, the students, the alumni, to finally see this put to rest one way or the other,” she said.

Jury selection is set to start at 8:30 a.m. Graham Spanier faces a maximum of seven years in prison for each of the third degree felony counts.


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