Criminal Justice

Penn State GC's testimony says ex-president tried to cover up Sandusky scandal

As the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal unfolded at Penn State University, the school’s general counsel went from being a close adviser to school officials tasked with managing the unfolding crisis to being a key witness against them.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Patriot-News, a judge presiding over the perjury and conspiracy trials of former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former vice-president Gary Schultz and ex-athletic director Tim Curley unsealed the grand jury testimony (PDF) of former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin this week.

Graham Spanier, former Penn State president. Richard Paul

The Inquirer reported that, according to her testimony, Spanier actively covered up the scandal and hid information from the schools’ board of trustees. Baldwin also testified that the three former officials claimed not to have any emails or files that were relevant to the investigation, a claim that was disproven by the Freeh Report. Baldwin was also present when the three officials testified before the grand jury that they were unaware of the allegations against Sandusky—statements that form the core of the perjury charges against them.

Citing a breach of attorney-client privilege, attorneys for the three officials are seeking a dismissal of the perjury claims against their clients. Additionally, defense lawyers maintain that Baldwin’s grand jury testimony should be thrown out and that she should be barred from testifying at the upcoming criminal trial. “I think of this as a crashing failure of due process,” said Elizabeth Ainslie, a partner at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis who represents Spanier, to the Inquirer. “No one explained to Graham Spanier that the person he thought was his lawyer was not his lawyer.”

According to the Inquirer, Baldwin states that Spanier did know that she was not his lawyer. “There was no doubt that I was representing the Pennsylvania State University,” she testified to the grand jury that ended up indicting Spanier.

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