Trials & Litigation

Claiming prosecutorial misconduct in Sandusky probe, ex-Penn State president sues state AG's office

Graham Spanier, former Penn State president. Richard Paul

A former president of Pennsylvania State University has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the state attorney general’s office, contending that it mishandled a criminal investigation concerning Penn State’s role in overseeing Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach accused of child sex abuse.

Filed Monday in federal court in Harrisburg, the suit by Graham B. Spanier seeks the dismissal of a criminal case against himself related to his testimony in the state’s Sandusky investigation. Spanier alleges that the perjury and conspiracy charges he faces were brought in bad faith and in violation of his right to counsel, according to the Allentown Morning Call and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The suit concerns a widening criminal investigation about Penn State’s role concerning Sandusky, who was convicted in 2012 of 45 charges and is now serving a hefty sentence. Spanier, former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley testified as witnesses before a state grand jury investigating Sandusky. As a result, Spanier, Schultz and Curley were charged with perjury and conspiracy related to a claimed cover-up by Penn State of wrongdoing by Sandusky. The three currently await trial in state court in Dauphin County.

They thought they were represented in the grand jury proceeding by Cynthia Baldwin, then serving as general counsel for Penn State, lawyers for the trio say. However, Baldwin told the judge and Frank Fina, an assistant attorney general in charge of the grand jury matter, that she represented only Penn State, according to the newspaper articles.

When Spanier in the grand jury identified Baldwin as his lawyer, “Fina said nothing to correct Spanier’s statement and thereby to alert Spanier to the fact that Baldwin was not serving as his lawyer,” the civil suit says.

It calls for Baldwin’s testimony against Spanier to be determined to be inadmissible because she represented Spanier as his personal lawyer, and it further contends that Spanier’s constitutional right to counsel was violated when Fina questioned Baldwin about privileged conversations with Spanier.

The judge in the criminal case has not yet decided whether to admit testimony by Baldwin.

See also: “Penn State GC’s testimony says ex-president tried to cover up Sandusky scandal”

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