In-House Counsel

Former Penn State President Claims Ex-GC Didn't Seek Outside Advice or Prepare Him for Grand Jury

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Former Penn State president Graham Spanier defended his response to allegations against Jerry Sandusky in a letter to university trustees that criticized the school’s then-general counsel for failing to hire an experienced law firm during the grand jury probe.

Spanier said he wouldn’t have ignored child sexual abuse complaints because he suffered as a child from disciplinary beatings administered by his father, report the Patriot News, the Associated Press and the Pittsburgh Tribune. Spanier had to have his nose straightened several times because of the abuse, his lawyer told AP.

Spanier said he was told of a single incident of shower “horseplay” but not sexual abuse, according to the Patriot News, which published Spanier’s letter. He said a report on the university response by former FBI director Louis Freeh was “incomplete and inaccurate” and he kept trustees informed to the fullest extent he was able.

Spanier wrote in the letter that general counsel Cynthia Baldwin told him very little about how she was handling the grand jury investigation, though she did say there appeared to be no issue for the university. He said he was unaware that materials had been subpoenaed from the university, and believed he was testifying before the grand jury voluntarily rather than as a result of a subpoena. When he went to testify, “I had no preparation or understanding of the context,” he wrote. He also said he was surprised when Baldwin handed over to the judge a thumb drive of his emails as he was being sworn in for his grand jury appearance.

“I note that the Freeh report concluded that the general counsel failed to seek the advice of a law firm with quality criminal experience to advise her of how to deal with the attorney general and the grand jury investigation,” Spanier wrote. “I have learned this is a standard procedure when corporations or other large entities are served with grand jury subpoenas.”

Baldwin’s lawyer, Charles De Monaco, defended the former general counsel in an email to the Pittsburgh Tribune. “She at all times upheld her duties to the university and its agents,” De Monaco wrote. “She is obligated to maintain silence to fulfill her ethical obligations to the university. This silence should not be used against her to give credibility to these and other allegations against her.”

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