What Did Spanier Know and When?

Penn State’s leadership kept the university’s public information director out of the loop about Jerry Sandusky between a media inquiry in 2010 until “all hell broke loose” in November 2011 with the release of the grand jury presentment, the employee testified Tuesday.

“Our office had no idea,” said Lisa Powers, the university’s top spokeswoman whose duty is to promote its positive image.

“We did not anticipate the presentment, we did not anticipate the fallout, and we were inundated with media from everywhere,” Powers said. “I didn’t answer my phone, and I couldn’t answer my email. There were just too many of them.”

Powers testified that she was one of several people who got an email in September 2010 from a Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter asking if anyone knew of any investigation into Sandusky. The email was sent by blind carbon copy, or bcc, to Spanier, Powers and another spokesman, Bill Mahon.

Spanier responded about an hour after receiving the email: “I haven’t heard this. Can you tell me more?” The reporter never responded, Powers said.

Powers testified she spoke with another employee who had found something about Sandusky touching boys that was posted on an online message board on a bodybuilder’s website. Powers said she and the employee noted the title of Sandusky’s autobiography, “Touched,” but when Powers went to find the message board, the comment had been removed.

Powers said she learned of another potential Sandusky-related issue when she was told that the reporter had camped outside the home of former Penn State police chief Thomas Harmon, who retired in 2005.

Powers said she was told by Al Horvath –— then the university’s senior vice president for finance and business — there was an investigation into Sandusky, but it had been closed.

The prosecution presented an email by Spanier to Horvath that Powers was only given enough information so she could field media inquiries without “exacerbating the situation.”

Powers testified she received another media inquiry in March 2011 about Sandusky, to which Powers responded the university didn’t know about any investigation and that Sandusky was a former Penn State employee who retired 10 years earlier.

Then, in late March 2011, when a grand jury investigation into Sandusky was revealed in a news report, Powers learned that senior leadership had gone to testify to the grand jury.

Caught off-guard, Powers sought information about the grand jury process from Cynthia Baldwin, who was then the university’s general counsel.

According to Powers’ testimony, Baldwin made the news report out to be a non-issue. Powers said Baldwin told her the grand jury investigation was a “fishing expedition” and had convened three times before and found nothing.

Powers said she was concerned that senior administrators had testified, but Baldwin never mentioned her role in accompanying Curley, Schultz or Spanier to the grand jury.

Seven months later, on Oct. 28, 2011, Powers was called into a meeting with Spanier, Baldwin, Mahon and the trustees chairman at the time, Steve Garban.

She testified she was told that a presentment was coming, and that Curley and Schultz may be indicted on perjury charges.


Curley, Spanier, Schultz to go to Preliminary Hearing

The judge who presided over the grand jury investigation of Jerry Sandusky and senior Penn State officials denied Tuesday motions to throw out pieces of evidence against the men before a preliminary hearing, saying their lawyers are using stall tactics to delay the case.

In a 16-page ruling, Feudale singled out one issue in making his decision: whether he has the jurisdiction to entertain such motions.

The judge also denied a motion to throw out the grand jury testimonies of Spanier and former university general counsel Cynthia Baldwin as well as to bar Baldwin from taking the stand during a yet-unscheduled preliminary hearing.

“In the view of this court, the motions extant are in effect legal chimera’s (sic),” Feudale wrote, calling them “concepts perceived by this (j)udge as legally creative, imaginative but implausible and serve only to delay the administration of justice in this simple case involving whether Spanier, Curley and Schultz did or did not commit the crimes alleged.”

The judge’s ruling would appear to give the Curley, Schultz and Spanier cases the green light to proceed to a preliminary hearing in a case that has been on hold since the men were arraigned in suburban Harrisburg in November. The men were indicted using Baldwin’s testimony as well as evidence that was turned up in the Freeh report.

The defense lawyers had argued in court papers that Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege when she testified to the grand jury against the men. The lawyers also have said their clients thought Baldwin was representing them at the grand jury, but Baldwin has said she was representing the interests of Penn State.

Feudale’s decision came after the prosecuting attorneys and the defense lawyers gave oral arguments Jan. 24. The judge also said his decision was based on an “extensive and careful review” of records related to the case.

Feudale firmly believed he does not have the jurisdiction to handle the requests. Instead, his role as the supervising judge of the grand jury is to keep its proceedings secret, and his duties ended when he accepted the grand jury presentment that a majority of the grand jurors approved by a vote.

Feudale said even if he had jurisdiction, he does not think the defense lawyers’ motions have legal merit.

“Even if attorney Baldwin exercised poor judgment and/or improper ethical conduct in her handling of the Sandusky investigation; such does not (in this court’s view) provide a defense to any crimes,” Feudale wrote.

Feudale said he does not believe Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege, and the appropriate course for that would be to take the matter to the attorney disciplinary board or a civil court — not a grand jury.