Ex-Pennsylvania State University President Graham Spanier and two other school officials charged with conspiring to cover up the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal can’t question a former university lawyer, a judge ruled.
Judge Todd A. Hoover in state court in Harrisburg today voided defense subpoenas seeking testimony from Cynthia Baldwin, Penn State’s former general counsel, and prosecutors who worked on the case. The ruling cut short what was to be a four-day pretrial hearing on defense motions to dismiss the charges.
Hoover “believed he could decide the issues he perceived being before him now without witnesses,” Elizabeth Ainslie, an attorney for Spanier, said during an impromtu press conference after the 15-minute session. “I’m disappointed.”
Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, has become a focal point in a case that has stalled more than two years. Defense attorneys have argued that a grand jury report, the basis for perjury and conspiracy charges against the officials, should be tossed because of Baldwin’s actions as the school’s chief legal officer.
Charged with Spanier are former athletic director Timothy Curley and ex-vice president Gary Schultz,
The men say they were led to believe Baldwin represented them when they testified before the grand jury and they learned later that she became a prosecution witness. Baldwin stepped down from her interim post as the school’s lawyer in June 2012.
Hoover said he will consider grand jury transcripts and letters between attorneys and prosecutors before deciding on requests to dismiss charges and keep Baldwin from testifying at a trial. Oral arguments may be scheduled later, Ainslie said.
Tom Farrell, an attorney for Schultz, and Caroline Roberto, an attorney for Curley, declined to comment on today’s hearing.
Charles DeMonaco, a lawyer for Baldwin, said she acted appropriately in the case.
“Cynthia Baldwin at all times fulfilled all her duties and obligations to Penn State and the agents and administrators of the university,” DeMonaco said at the press conference. He declined to elaborate.
Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was sentenced in October 2012 to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing boys for more than a decade. Spanier, Curley and Schultz are to stand trial on charges of endangering the welfare of children, conspiracy and perjury.
The men allegedly kept silent on abuse claims against Sandusky, including an eyewitness account of a 2001 incident involving the former coach and a boy in a university locker-room.
The cases are Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Spanier, CP-22-CR-3615-2013; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Curley, CP-22-CR-3614-2013; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Schultz, CP-22-CR-3616-2013, Common Pleas Court of Dauphin County (Harrisburg).