The former president of Penn State University is going to serve jail time, a judge has ordered, for ignoring a complaint against then football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky regarding child abuse.

Graham Spanier was alerted to Sandusky’s actions but chose to keep the information in-house because, Spanier said, he was told the abuse in the shower was just “horseplay.”

His email to university administration read, in part: “The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it.” 

Spanier, 72, now must report to county jail near the Penn State campus on July 9 to serve a term of at least two months, perhaps putting an end to a long, legal saga.

Sandusky was charged in November 2011, and days later Spanier forced out as president. 

Spanier was convicted in 2017 for endangering the welfare of children, but that decision was reversed by a federal judge due to a legal technicality in 2019.

Subsequently, that reversal then was overturned in appeals court.

Spanier, who also must serve two months of house arrest following the jail term, told the judge at Wednesday’s sentencing that he regretted his actions.

“He made a mistake,” Judge John Boccabella said, “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,”

A university spokesperson said Spanier remains on administrative leave and is not teaching classes. 

“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 following the hearing.

Add comment

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.