Tuesday, March 21

Opinion: Spanier's Opening Statement

If put in the role of Spanier's defense attorney, here is what I would tell the jury tomorrow.

Ray Blehar

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.

In the case you will hear, the Commonwealth wants you to find Dr. Graham Spanier guilty for the inactions of others who were legally required to protect children from Jerry Sandusky.

When Penn State University officials learned of Sandusky showering with children in 1998, the police and child welfare officials conducted a full investigation of the matter.

Mr. Jerry Lauro, a program assistant with the Department of Public Welfare Children and Youth Services in Harrisburg, learned early in the 1998 investigation that Sandusky had showered with TWO children and had given each of them bear hugs while naked.  

One of these boys later became known as Victim 6 because of Sandusky's conduct in the shower.

Later in the investigation, Mr. Lauro interviewed Jerry Sandusky.  Sandusky admitted he had done the same thing with other children.

Mr. Lauro’s role in the 1998 investigation was to determine if it was safe for Sandusky to be around children. 

He failed.

Mr. Lauro determined that Sandusky was not a threat and his decision that abuse allegations were "unfounded" allowed Sandusky to continue to run the “victim farm” known as The Second Mile. 

Mr. Lauro did not provide any guidance or advice to Penn State officials after the investigation. 

He simply closed the investigation and drove back to Harrisburg.

Mr. John Miller of Centre County Children and Youth Services also participated in the investigation. 

His role was to ensure protective measures were in place while the investigation was on-going.  In other words, Jerry Sandusky was not to access children while under investigation.

He also failed.

According to the trial testimony in the Sandusky case, Jerry Sandusky was victimizing Victim 4 at that time.

The 1998 University Park police report also revealed that Sandusky was observing Little League baseball practices and was continuing to try to set up other activities so that he could interact with the eventual Victim 6.

None of these contacts should have occurred in 1998 because Mr. Miller was supposed to coordinate this protective action with Sandusky’s charity.

There is no evidence he ever told the charity that Sandusky was under investigation.

Mr. Lauro and Mr. Miller were legally required by their jobs to protect children.

Based on the plain letter of the law, Dr. Spanier's job had no such legal responsibility.

But there’s more.

The University Park police and State College police departments were involved in determining if there was sufficient evidence of criminal acts by Sandusky with regard to the 1998 incident.

Those individuals did not find sufficient evidence for then Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar to file charges.

Those who were trained law enforcement investigators determined that no crimes were committed by Jerry Sandusky and an officer of the court decided the same.  

That was the information passed on to PSU officials in 1998.

Regardless, the Commonwealth will attempt to argue that because of this unfounded incident in 1998, Dr. Spanier understood that Jerry Sandusky was a threat to children.

That is a very, very, very big lie.

There is no evidence that Dr. Spanier ever learned that the 1998 incident involved Jerry Sandusky.  Two vague emails were sent to Dr. Spanier and neither of them gave Sandusky’s full name.  Moreover, there is no evidence that Spanier even read the emails or responded to them.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the 1998 incident provides a window into how your Commonwealth’s system for protecting children works. 

Or more appropriately, doesn’t work.

In Dr. Spanier’s case, the Commonwealth also decided that a mandated reporter -- Dr. Jack Raykovitz -- who was the Executive Director of The Second Mile, a licensed child psychologist, and responsible for the care of the children who participated in Sandusky's charitable organization, should not be held responsible for his failure act on the very same information that former PSU Athletic Director Timothy Curley gave to Dr. Spanier.

Mr. Curley will testify that a report of inappropriate conduct between Sandusky and a child was reported to him in February 2001 and he passed that information on to Dr. Raykovitz. 

Dr. Raykovitz discussed Mr. Curley’s report with Bruce Heim, who was also a mandated reporter as a member of the Board of Directors of Sandusky's charity and as a mentor of children who participated in the charity’s Friend Fitness program.

The Friend Fitness program was a sanctioned program of the charity and paired an adult and a child in unsupervised one-on-one workout sessions. 

Jerry Sandusky used this program to legitimize his exercise activities with his eventual victims.  These workouts took place on and off the PSU campus. 

Mr. Heim stated the report from Mr. Curley was "a non-starter" and his rationale was:

“For five years, I worked out at the football facility, several times a week, and saw Jerry showering with children. I said I don’t think it’s relevant. It happens every day at the YMCA.”

Dr. Raykovitz and Mr. Heim, as leaders of a children’s youth organization, are held to a different legal standard than PSU officials because they were responsible for the safety and welfare of minor children.  

They knew or should have known that Sandusky's conduct required a report to child welfare agents.

They failed to legally act in 2001 -- and beyond.

In late 2008, the charity’s leaders learned that Sandusky was under investigation for suspected child abuse. In January, he was "indicated" for child abuse and they decided to keep quiet about it. 

The charity's board decided to let Sandusky continue to be the face of the charity so that he could continue to raise money.  

Their silence also extended to the parents and children, who had no inkling that it was unsafe to be around Jerry Sandusky.

According to the testimony of Victim 9, he was victimized by Sandusky up until his 16th birthday in July 2009.

The Commonwealth is charging Dr. Spanier for endangering the welfare of Victim 9 --  but has made no such charges against those at the charity.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, something is very wrong here.

Based on the evidence you are about to hear in this case, it will become obvious that this prosecution was designed by the Commonwealth to sweep the failures of its child welfare agents, the police, and charity officials under the rug.

The Commonwealth's oversight of charities is lax and its child protection system performs abysmally.

The Commonwealth wants to bury these problems with a guilty verdict of Dr. Spanier.

Don’t let them do it.

The Sandusky case was not a Penn State problem – it was a State of Pennsylvania problem.


  1. A very good start.

    I might also mention that the jury will hear from Mike McQueary again but it's important to remember that McQueary never talked to President Spanier.

    Mike McQueary will tell you he believed that Sandusky sexually assaulted a boy right in front of him yet McQueary said nothing, left and didn't call the police or a child protection agency. He asked his father and Dr. Dranov for advice within about an hour yet they didn't advise him to call the police based on what he told them.

    1. Tim,
      According to my source at the trial today, Spanier's attorney made it a point to highlight that NONE of the witnesses who testified ever talked to Spanier.

    2. From what I get from news reports, Spanier's defense didn't take your advice.

      If the prosecution doesn't call Lauro, Miller and Karen Arnold then I hope the defense does to at least ask them if they informed Spanier in 1998 that Sandusky was a danger to children.

    3. McQ should have been arrested.. charged.. and prosecuted for DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE!!! Does Pennsylvania have DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE? Based on his rationalization of what he thought he heard.. the lack of action to protect the boy.. immediately take boy to officials and make a statement. Even if McQ believed this to be true because he "witnessed" the alleged event doesn't the LAW REQUIRE HIM.. NOT SECOND OR THIRD PARTY PEOPLE..TO IMMEDIATELY CONTACT OFFICIALS? McQ is a true WORM!

    4. McQueary followed the PA reporting law in 2001 as did everyone else. The Attorney General is just going after Penn State and letting everyone else skate.

      McQueary's testimony is that he knew Sandusky was a danger to children in 2001 but didn't call the police or a child protection agency. That seems like child endangerment to me.

      Prosecutors claim that in 1998 Spanier didn't take any precautions after hearing that Sandusky was falsely accused of child abuse. The police, DA and two child protection agencies knew far more than Spanier in 1998, and they did zilch.

      Prosecutors claim that in 2001, Spanier didn't investigate and didn't identify the boy seen with Sandusky. Jack Raykovitz, the Second Mile CEO and PhD child psychologist didn't do either of those either despite being in a far better position to do so.

      Spanier did more in 2001 than law enforcement did in 1998 and more than Second Mile did in 2001.

  2. Bailiff, release Dr. Spanier and arrest former AG Corbutt, Officer Lauro, Mr. Miller and all CYS employees in the Harrisburg office. Also, prepare an order to ..............dissolve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  3. Ray - Do you have any idea what this "confidential witness" in the Spanier trial is all about?

    I thought a confidential witness was something you'd see in a mob boss trial where they would be in fear for their life. Spanier is no mob boss.

    I suspect it is another trick by the prosecution.

    1. Tim,
      I believe they are calling one of the victims -- likely Victim 5 -- a confidential witness.

      Given the lack of any new evidence at the trial today, he's the only one they have that will allege being raped on campus.

      If he attempts that, the defense should object to the testimony because a jury already found that his account of indecent assault was not credible.

    2. Then he's not a confidential witness, who is not identified at all. The Sandusky victims testified with their real names at the Sandusky trial. The news media just didn't identify them but their names are on the court transcript.

    3. Tim,
      My source at the trial today confirmed it was V5 -- though his identity was not revealed.

  4. From the reports I have read, I have never observed a defense attorney treat the prosecutions witnesses with such kid gloves. They had a chance to rebut the false narrative by more vigorous questioning of MM, and they had a chance to turn Raycovitz any which way but loose. That the prosecution even called Raycovitz was a huge opportunity, but they whiffed. You don't usually get windows like that, and they totally muffed it.

    Yes, victim 5's story was scripted by Klein to get $$$ from PSU. A golden opportunity for the defense to take the OAG to the woodshed for suborning perjury. Judging from today, I don't think that they are up to the task.

    1. I agree. It doesn't seem like much of a defense so far but the reporting has been sparse on details. I would have at least asked Raykovitz if he made any effort to investigate the 2001 shower incident and identify the boy as that is what prosecutors fault Spanier for not doing.

      Victim 5 told the grand jury he was abused in the PSU shower in 1998 but later changed the date to 2001. Coming after the McQueary witnessed incident made victim 5's claim worth more so it could be the date was changed for profit. It seems like the defense should try to raise reasonable doubt whether victim 5 was abused after the known 2001 shower incident.

      Ray has a detailed analysis on victim 5's suspect claim.


    2. Tim and Gregory,
      The defense strategy here was to MINIMIZE everything and treat things almost exactly like it was 2001.

      From the folks I talked to, Sam Silver calmly and successfully went about debunking or tamping down the AG's witnesses most damaging assertions.

      Making 1998 into a nothingburger as a good call.
      And if PSU thought 2001 was another nothingburger, then no need to expect Second Mile to do much.

      As for Mike, let the other witnesses contradict him. And that's what happened.

      Curley and Schultz both said the JVP told them horseplay. Schultz's description new -- and more vivid -- likely a result of the AG's Repressed Memory Therapy program (same one used for V5).


    3. Correct me if I'm wrong but Sandusky wasn't even charged with IDSI for victim 5 and was acquitted of this particular charge of indecent assault as well. Since he didn't rape this boy and also did not even assault him, how reliable a witness can this boy be? What was there to report by any 3rd party witness?

    4. Philip,
      It was all about the date of the crime, not what happened.

      As for reliability, he testified at grand jury it was 1998, then told police 2000, then after hooking up with attorney Tom Kline, the date was changed to 2001.

      Today it was 2001 or 2002. He was equivocating on it.

    5. Ray - I just hope the defense does not get overconfident. They have to overcome 5 years of Spanier being vilified by the news media.

      I don't think the prosecution came close to proving its case with essentially everyone but McQueary saying he never reported a sexual assault in 2001. We all thought the plaintiff didn't come close to proving his case in the McQueary lawsuit, and we know how that turned out.

      I would like to see the defense call the other major players from 1998 - Lauro, Miller and Karen Arnold - and ask them if they believed Sandusky was a danger to children and if they warned Spanier.

      It seemed to me that neither Curley or Schultz admitted to "knowingly" endangering children. Saying they should have done more is not the same as child endangerment.

    6. Ray - It seems like a detective should be able to pin down the date that Sandusky was taking victim 5 to football games, maybe just ask Jerry or Dottie Sandusky or check Second Mile records.

      If Sandusky took victim 5 to several football games, there might be game film or photos of them. There are potentially 100,000 witnesses for each game.

      Victim 5 was born 8-8-88 so would have been 10 in 1998 and 14 in 2002. That's a wide age range. Victim 5 claimed he was in 5th grade when he met Sandusky. Not too many 5th graders are 13 or 14.

  5. WOW! Prior to reading this statement, if factually true, I could easily put the damage to Penn State squarely on Spanier and the other three. With the real tragedy falling on an amazing man who dedicated his life to this University.. the athletes and Athletic Department and this fine yet imperfect University as a whole! What a shame! If the statement presented is factual then I apologize to these poor men. And the Commonwealth and an entire"rush to judgement" media and country owe many a huge apology that these men will never get. The important issue is that the facts finally come out and the truth see the light! FINALLY! It will be interesting to hear the rebuttal! Probably lame rationalization usual when others lack empathy and patience! Regardless..PENN STATE PROUD.. UNRIVALED! GO TRADITION.. GO LIONS!

    1. Doug,
      Thanks for your comment.

      Everything I wrote above is factual.

      Most of what you've read elsewhere isn't.