September 24, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) Penn State's former president can't travel to Saudi Arabia while he awaits trial on charges he engaged in a criminal cover-up of child sexual abuse complaints about former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a judge ruled Thursday.

Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis based his ruling against Graham Spanier on concerns that the United States doesn't have an extradition treaty with the Persian Gulf nation and noted travel warnings from the U.S. State Department.

''More pertinent to this matter is the complete absence of a legal process by which (the) defendant could be returned to the United States for trial should he choose not to return or would unfortunately be detained as a result of unexpected political unrest, which is ever more commonplace in the region where he would be visiting,'' Lewis wrote.

Lewis also denied a request by Spanier to have his passport returned permanently rather than needing to seek its temporary return on a trip-by-trip basis. His lawyers declined to comment on the ruling or say if they would appeal the decision.

Spanier sought permission to travel to Saudi Arabia in October and November to participate in seminars at the request of the Saudi Ministry of Education. He was allowed to visit Saudi Arabia last year and has also traveled to England and Spain while awaiting trial.

Spanier had said he also intended to participate in a meeting at Qassim University and consult with the rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

The case against Spanier and two others, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley, is currently on appeal and awaits a key ruling by the state Superior Court. No trial date has been set, and the three defendants have argued that some or all of the charges against them should be thrown out.

They are accused of perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, failure to properly report suspected abuse and endangering the welfare of children.

Sandusky, who worked for decades under former head coach Joe Paterno, was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving 30 to 60 years in prison. He is appealing that verdict and a hearing is scheduled for next month at the courthouse in the State College area.

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