Former Pennsylvania State University General Counsel Cynthia Baldwin brushed aside concerns about a grand jury investigation into former football coach Jerry Sandusky in early 2011 calling it a “fishing expedition,” the school’s communications director said.
In a March 2011 conversation, Baldwin told Lisa Powers, Penn State’s spokeswoman, that it was the fourth time a grand jury had convened to investigate Sandusky and the school and there was no evidence of wrongdoing, Powers testified today in state court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“She said there was nothing to talk about and it was a fishing expedition,” Powers said of the telephone conversation. “She said we have nothing to say because there were no findings yet.”
Powers testified at a hearing over charges against former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two other officials over their role in an alleged cover-up of accusations against Sandusky, a former football defensive coordinator. Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 and sentenced in October to at least 30 years in prison for sexually molesting 10 boys over 15 years.
Magisterial District Court Judge William Wenner must decide whether there is enough evidence to order Spanier, former athletic director Timothy Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz to trial on charges including endangering the welfare of children, perjury and conspiracy. Spanier, Curley and Schultz have all denied wrongdoing in the case, which is based in part on their grand jury testimony and e-mails and documents dating back to 1998.
Legal wrangling stalled the case against the former school officials as defense attorneys argued the grand jury report should be tossed because of issues with Baldwin’s alleged legal representation. The men argued that they were led to believe Baldwin represented them when they testified before a grand jury. Baldwin later became a perjury witness against them. Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, stepped down from the interim post at Penn State in June 2012.
Prosecutors also read into the court record Spanier’s April 2011 grand jury testimony in which he denied any knowledge of a 1998 allegation against Sandusky. Documents recovered by prosecutors contradict that assertion as Spanier is copied on e-mails between Schultz and Curley in May and June of 1998.
The cases are Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Spanier, MJ-12303-CR-0000419-2012, Magisterial District Judge 12-3-03; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Curley, CP-22-MD-1385-2012, Common Pleas Court of Dauphin County; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Schultz, CP-22-MD-1386-2012, Common Pleas Court of Dauphin County (Harrisburg).
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