The news came on the eve of another football season, the second under Coach Bill O’Brien and the second without Joe Paterno. Paterno, Penn State’s famed former coach, died in January 2012 after he was fired in the wake of the public disclosure of the allegations against Sandusky, a longtime top assistant for the team. Nine months later, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Two weeks ago, Penn State’s board of trustees authorized the payment of about $60 million to settle claims made by dozens of Sandusky’s victims.
The university and the community have tried to move beyond the scandal. Paterno’s likeness is no longer omnipresent in stores and restaurants around the campus in State College, Pa., and a statue of him was removed from outside the stadium. Spanier, Curley and Schultz all lost their jobs.
The numerous charges against the men include perjury, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children. During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors accused the men of knowing of abuse allegations against Sandusky but failing to properly report them. They are also accused of hiding information from investigators and lying to a grand jury.
The allegations stem from an episode in 2001, in which the former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary said he saw Sandusky molesting a boy in a university shower. At Sandusky’s trial, McQueary testified that he reported what he had seen to Paterno, Curley and Schultz. Curley and Schultz have said McQueary did not make it clear the act was sexual in nature. Spanier denied knowing the full nature of the assault.
But e-mails between the three men revealed that Spanier, Curley and Schultz had decided in 2001 to confront Sandusky themselves instead of reporting the allegations.
“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,” Spanier wrote at the time. The e-mails also included discussion of abuse allegations against Sandusky from 1998. Spanier had testified to a grand jury that he had not been aware of the 1998 allegations.
McQueary testified this week that Paterno had told him that the university botched its response to the Sandusky scandal and warned him that he would be made the scapegoat.
McQueary said Paterno told him, “Old Main screwed up,” referring to the landmark campus building that houses the offices of the president and other administrators.
Curley and Schultz were charged in November 2011, when Sandusky was arrested. Spanier was ousted as president at the time, although he remains a faculty member on administrative leave. Spanier was charged a year later. Now he, too, will stand trial.