Former Penn State President to Begin Prison Sentence in July

Graham Spanier, who was convicted of child endangerment in 2017, will serve at least two months in county prison.
Author:
Publish date:

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier will serve at least two months in prison after a Pennsylvania judge upheld Spanier's conviction on a child endangerment charge relating to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Spanier, 72, will report to Centre County Correctional Facility on July 9 for a sentence that will be followed by two months of house arrest and electronic monitoring. Spanier was convicted in 2017 of one count of misdemeanor child endangerment, which he had been appealing.

A jury convicted Spanier for deciding to handle internally a 2001 complaint that Sandusky had abused a minor in a campus facility rather than report it to authorities. Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Sandusky is serving a sentence of 30-60 years.

"[Spanier] made a mistake, and he's going to pay for his mistake, but I don't consider him to be a danger to society as I would a criminal," Judge John Boccabella, said in announcing the sentence, according to the Associated Press.

Spanier, who was forced out as Penn State's president in 2011, had been appealing the case for four years. A judge overturned the conviction in 2019, and a federal appeals court reinstated it in 2020.

"Today marks the end of a long road towards justice for the children endangered by Mr. Spanier’s inaction — choosing to cover up the abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky rather than reporting it to law enforcement," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. "No one is above the law, and my office will continue to pursue anyone who looks the other way in the face of child sexual abuse. There are consequences for failing to protect children in Pennsylvania.”

A group of prominent Penn State alumni, including Joe Paterno's wife Sue and current and former Penn State trustees, wrote an open letter this week to Judge Boccabella asking for Spanier not to be jailed.

Spanier has "serious medical conditions," including late-stage cancer and heart disease, according to the letter. Spanier's lawyers had asked that Spanier serve his time at home, according to Pennlive.

Spanier was Penn State's president from 1995-2011. He also served as chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, the Big Ten Council Of Presidents/Chancellors and the Association of American Universities.