Ex-Penn State president gets 2-month jail sentence linked to Jerry Sandusky abuse case

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A judge on Wednesday ordered former Penn State University President Graham Spanier to start serving a two-month jail sentence in July in connection with the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. 

Spanier’s 2017 misdemeanor conviction for one count of endangering the welfare of children had been overturned amid his legal team’s appeals before Judge John Boccabella upheld it this week. 

Spanier was forced out as the school’s top administrator after Sandusky was arrested in 2011. Sandusky was convicted in 2012 for sexually abusing several boys during his career and is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence. 

After his two months in jail, Spanier will also serve two additional months of house arrest. His lawyers tried to get Spanier’s sentence amended so he could serve his entire sentence at home because of health issues. 

Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte told the judge the Centre County Correctional Facility will be able to handle his health problems. Spanier had open-heart surgery in 2019 and has advanced-stage prostate cancer. 

Prosecutors said they would support work release with medical furloughs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. 

Spanier was convicted of failing to notify police about reports from aides that a graduate assistant football coach had complained of being disturbed by seeing Sandusky showering alone with a boy in a team locker room in 2001.

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier arrives for a hearing at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, May 26, 2021. (Associated Press)

Spanier wrote in an email at the time that “the only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it.”

He has argued the incident was described to him as “horseplay.” During his sentencing, he said he regretted not reporting the allegations. 

After the sentencing, Boccabella said, “He made a mistake and he’s going to pay for his mistake, but I don’t consider him to be a danger to society as I would a criminal.” 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a statement Wednesday that said: “Today marks the end of a long road towards justice for the children endangered by Mr. Spanier’s inaction — choosing to cover up the abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky rather than reporting it to law enforcement.” 

Shapiro’s office in January asked Boccabella to enforce the sentence after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a magistrate judge’s decision that had thrown out Spanier’s conviction and ordered a new trial.

Boccabella also imposed two years of probation, a $7,500 fine and 200 hours of community service. He authorized Spanier to participate in work release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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