HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The former Penn State
president, who was forced out as the school's top administrator when Jerry Sandusky
was arrested a decade ago, will have to report to jail soon after a judge upheld a four-year-old sentence on Wednesday.
For a single misdemeanor conviction of endangering the welfare of children
, the judge ordered Graham Spanier to begin serving at least two months in a county jail several miles from the Penn State campus on July 9, followed by two months of house
arrest with electronic monitoring.
Spanier was charged in 2012 and convicted by a jury in March 2017, but he was able to avoid prison
due to his appeals.
He was convicted in response to reports from his aides that a graduate assistant football
coach had been greatly disturbed by finding Sandusky showering alone with a boy in a team locker room in 2001.
“He made a mistake, and he’ll pay for it,” Judge John Boccabella said.
Spanier has stated that the boy's abuse was described to him as horseplay, and that he and other top administrators did not notify police
. Spanier wrote in an email at the time that "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, did not testify at his trial
but did speak at sentencing, telling the judge that he regretted not intervening more forcefully. He said little in the Harrisburg courtroom Wednesday, other than to tell Boccabella that he is still a tenured faculty member.
Following the hearing, Pennsylvania
Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a statement about the ramifications of failing to protect children.
“Today marks the end of a long road toward justice for the children jeopardized by Mr. Spanier’s inaction — choosing to cover up Jerry Sandusky’s abuse rather than reporting it to law enforcement,” Shapiro said.
After the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a magistrate judge's decision to overturn Spanier's conviction and order a new trial, Shapiro's office asked Boccabella to enforce the sentence in January.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte told Boccabella on Wednesday that the Centre County Correctional Facility, where Spanier will serve his sentence, is equipped to deal
with Spanier's medical issues.
“The victims of the defendant’s crime
do not believe that he will ever be held accountable for the crime for which he has been convicted,” Schulte stated before the judge announced his decision.
Spanier had open-heart surgery in September 2019 and is in an advanced stage of prostate cancer
, putting him at higher risk of contracting COVID-19
, according to Spanier's lawyer, Sam Silver, who also stated that Spanier is fully vaccinated.
“We got here today and we are here today for one and only reason, and that is the pandemic
,” Silver said, noting that the global health
emergency has not ended, and that state prosecutors seeking confinement were “blind to reality and callous.”
“Thankfully, things aren’t as bad as they were a year ago,” Boccabella said.
Boccabella also sentenced Spanier to two years of probation, a $7,500 fine, and 200 hours of community service, and he approved work
release for her.
Sandusky was charged for the first time in November 2011, and Spanier resigned as university president a few days later.