Wednesday, May 1

Shapiro Press Release on Spanier Conviction Is Nonsense

The PA Attorney General's announcement to appeal the Spanier decision is filled with lies and half truths

By
Ray Blehar
May 1, 2019, 1:35 PM EDT, Updated at 6:30 PM EDT

Unwilling to admit defeat, corrupt Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro allegedly intends to appeal the Federal court's ruling on the Spanier case.

Yesterday's ruling confirmed that former Penn State University President (PSU) Graham Spanier's Constitutional Rights were violated due to the ex post facto application of the child endangerment statute.

It is unclear at this time how Shapiro is going to appeal this ruling, but his press release makes it clear that he intends to ignore the law and evidence to make his case.   See below (my emphasis added):




AG Shapiro Announces Intent to Appeal Federal Judge’s Decision to Overturn Graham Spanier Conviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — May 1, 2019
CONTACT: Joe Grace, 717-574-9095, jgrace@attorneygeneral.gov

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro is announcing today that he intends to appeal a federal court judge’s decision to overturn former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s child-endangerment conviction. Spanier was convicted in March 2017 of endangering the welfare of children for his failure to report the sexual abuse of children by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

“Graham Spanier, as President of Penn State University, was personally advised that children were being sexually abused on school property,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Evidence proved he chose not to help the childrenbut instead to cover up the abuse, despite being well aware of his responsibility as a supervisor.

“In a last-minute and highly unusual decision yesterday evening, a federal magistrate set Spanier free just before he was finally about to begin serving his deserved sentence. Federal courts have very limited power to act in state criminal proceedings, and this ruling plainly exceeded that power.

“As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has made crystal clear, Spanier’s conduct was illegal. The Office of Attorney General will quickly appeal this ruling to hold him accountable for his conduct covering up child sexual abuse. No one is above the law.

ANALYSIS 

"...his failure to report the sexual abuse of children"

First off, Spanier was only aware of a single incident of Sandusky's inappropriate conduct with a child and that incident was not described as "sexual abuse."


"...was personally advised that children were being sexually abused on school property,”

Curley and Schultz both testified that the incident on campus was not sexual in nature and that's what they told Spanier. 

"..he chose not to help the children..."

Spanier's affirmation of the decision to inform The Second Mile about the 2001 incident should have been sufficient to ensure the safety and welfare of children in the charity's care.   Spanier did more to protect children from Sandusky in 2001 than Pennsylvania's child protective services did when they had more evidence of abusive conduct against multiple children in 1998.

"..but instead to cover up the abuse."

The trial court did not find Spanier guilty of a conspiracy or a course of conduct to endanger children. In other words, Spanier was not part of a cover up.

In addition, Judge Boccabella stated that Spanier, et al, "were good men who made a terrible mistake."   He did so to acknowledge the difference between a "criminal" and "a person who made a mistake."

"...being well aware of his responsibility as a supervisor."

Spanier was not Sandusky's supervisor in 2001 nor was Spanier a supervisor of children.  The PA OAG's insistence that Spanier was supervising the welfare of a child is the very reason why the court vacated the verdict because the statute, as it existed in 2001, did not include that language.


"...ruling plainly exceeded that power."
The Federal courts powers undoubtedly include violations of the U.S. Constitution, thus the court had jurisdiction to intervene in the case.

“As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has made crystal clear, Spanier’s conduct was illegal."
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court never heard the case on the merits at any time.

"will quickly appeal this ruling to hold him accountable for his conduct covering up child sexual abuse."

If Shapiro truly believes that Spanier violated the 1995 statute, then he would simply re-try the case within 90 days.   But Shapiro knows that he'd lose in a retrial because he can't prove that Spanier was supervising the unknown minor youth involved in the 2001 incident.

The intended appeal is an act of desperation and an "end run."

"No one is above the law."

Any harm done to children after 2001 came as the result of the decision by the officials of The Second Mile charity to allow Sandusky to continue to have one-on-one, unsupervised access to children.   Moreover, the charity condoned Sandusky's behavior of showering with its participants (as long as Jerry wore swimming trunks).

Shapiro's prosecutors did not raise an eye brow when Dr. Jack Raykovitz described this decision at the Spanier trial.   Nor have they ever charged Dr. Raykovitz or any other of the charity's decision makers with a crime for allowing Sandusky to access children after 2001 and again after knowing he was indicated for child abuse in 2009.

When will Shapiro be held to account for not equally applying and upholding the law?

11 comments:

  1. If Shapiro is really serious about an appeal, he might actually have a chance if he can get the case before the highly politicized US Supreme Court.

    Another ex post facto case involving child sex abuse was decided in 1993's Stogner v. Calif. That decision to uphold the US Constitution's ban on ex post facto state laws was just 5-4 with 4 conservatives dissenting.

    The US Supreme Court now has 5 conservatives who often do not have much regard for precedent.

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    1. Stogner v California was over a retroactive statute of limitations law, not a re-definition of who has duty of care. The case also involved ongoing abuse of his two daughters, which the conservatives noted in their dissent. Shapiro is going to have his ass kicked in Federal Court. If I were Wolf I would do everything I could to prevent further embarrassment to the State of Pennsylvania. An AG and Superior/Supreme Court justices that do not understand the Constitution of the United States is not good....not good at all!

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    2. I respectfully disagree given the often wacky decisions by the extremely politicized US Supreme Court and the obsession with child sex abuse cases.

      We saw how the PA Superior Court vacated Lynn's conviction on ex post facto grounds only to have the PA Supreme Court reinstate it using a twisted interpretation of the 1995 law that was contradicted by the facts, as this federal judge discusses in her decision. I could easily see the 5 conservatives on US Supreme Court side with the twisted logic of the PA Supreme Court.

      I don't believe for a minute that the several PA AGs and PA judges involved in Spanier's case were ignorant of the US Constitution's ex post facto clause. I believe they deliberately denied Spanier his Constitutional rights to get a conviction for political purposes.

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    3. Tim,
      Thanks for your commentary.

      First off, the PA Superior Court did not overturn Lynn's conviction on ex post facto grounds. Instead, it simply ruled that the law didn't apply to Lynn. The Supreme Court disagreed on appeal and reinstated the conviction. The Superior Court heard the case again and vacated the decision on the grounds that prosecutors "abused discretion" by using 21 supplemental witnesses whose victimization occurred outside the statute of limitations. Obviously, the latter was highly prejudicial. DA Seth Williams appealed the Superior Court decision to the Supreme Court, who denied his appeal.

      The PA Supreme Court refused to hear the Spanier appeal regarding the ex post facto clause. Judge Hoover declined to rule on it. The Superior Court denied Spanier's motion regarding it. All that said, I am firmly in the camp that the PA Courts are politicized.

      Next, I respectfully disagree with your characterization of the U.S. Supreme Court as "wacky" and "politicized." The five "conservative" justices on the Supreme Court are "originalists" who interpret the U.S. Constitution based on the Framers intent. In other words, the U.S. Constitution is the ultimate judicial precedent.

      Given that, an originalist would obviously throw out Spanier's conviction because the law was applied retroactively.

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    4. Yet in Stogner v California, the original "originalist," Scalia, dissented, along with 3 others.

      They wanted to allow a retroactive extension of the statute of limitations so a man could still be charged with child sexual abuse.

      I agree with the many legal scholars who have pointed out that the "originalist" notion is a clever ruse, which the conservatives ignore whenever it doesn't suit their purpose.

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    5. Tim,
      In Stogner, Stevens, considered the swing jurist, wrote the dissenting opinion and was joined by Scalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist. O'Connor, a Nixon appointee, who more frequently sided with conservatives, joined in the affirming opinion.

      Regardless, the Stogner case is not the topic of the blog.

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  2. Surprised we haven't heard from Louis Freeh, who can't be happy with this decision. If the federal judge's ruling is upheld on appeal, then Spanier could reactivate his defamation lawsuit against Freeh.

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    1. Tim,
      Agree. I was kind of waiting for that too.

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  3. To answer your last question, the voters of Pennsylvania will hold Mr. Shapiro accountable for his misdeeds, and his political aspirations will go up in smoke in the pit of unquenchable fire where all serpents of his ilk belong.

    Mr. Shapiro thinks that he is above the law and the Constitution of the United States. He notably suborned perjury in Spanier's trial. He is notably anti Catholic and pro abortion. I cannot fathom what constituency he is playing to. He is a liar. He has no ethics and is morally challenged.

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    1. Gregory,
      Thanks for your comments.

      I agree that voters will hold him accountable in the next election.

      I also agree that he thinks he is above the law and that his prosecutors not only suborned perjury at the Spanier trial, but were guilty of evidence tampering. I won't elaborate on the latter as this is a pending matter.

      His political views seem to be rather far left. That's not a good thing in Pennsylvania given that the Congressional victories won by Democrats in swing districts were by candidates who masqueraded as Republicans (e.g., Connor Lamb).

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