Photo: Photo: John Tecce
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier, who helmed the university while Jerry Sandusky was assistant football coach, is finally speaking out about the scandal and the report that said he wilfully did nothing about it.”I never, ever heard anything about child abuse or sexual abuse or my antennae raised up enough to even suspect that,” he told The New Yorker over the course of a two-day interview.
He said the now-infamous incident of Sandusky being caught in the shower with a minor was described as horsing around and the staff member who reported it wasn’t entirely sure of what he saw.
From the interview:
“And I remember asking two questions. “Are you sure that’s how it was described to you, as ‘horsing around’?” And the answer was yes from both Gary [Schultz] and Tim [Curley]. And, “Are you sure that’s all that was said to you?” And the answer was yes. I remember, for a moment, sort of figuratively scratching our heads and thinking about what’s an appropriate way to follow up on “horsing around.” I had never gotten a report like that before.”
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sex abuse. In his report following the trial and conviction, former federal judge and FBI director Louis Freeh said “the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect” Sandusky’s victims.
Throughout his entire interview with The New Yorker, Spanier said many things mentioned in the Freeh Report, such as an email exchange between him and Curley where they talked about “humane” ways to handle the situation, were taken out of context.
In reality, he had very little knowledge of the abuse up until details began emerging from the grand jury, Spanier said.
“Up until November 5th I still thought it was about the one incident in the shower and I had been told by our general counsel that it was about that one incident in the shower,” Spanier said, adding that he was shocked in April 2011 when the grand jury asked him about an entire range of crimes they believed Sandusky committed against young boys.
When asked what he would have done differently, Spanier said on one hand he wouldn’t change how he reacted because “based upon what I was told and what I knew, and the reliance that you have on others to follow up on things, there wouldn’t have been a basis for handling that any differently than I handled the other two thousand heads-ups that came up over the years.”
But on the other hand, he says he wishes he knew then what he knows now about Sandusky’s behaviour.
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