By Pat Loeb, Ben Simmoneau
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At a news conference today, attorneys for former Penn State president Graham Spanier defended their client’s actions in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse matter and refuted allegations in a trustee-commissioned investigation that Spanier engaged in a coverup.
But they had no response to some of the most sensational findings in the report.
According the trustees report, prepared by former FBI director Louis Freeh, Spanier and three other university officials exchanged e-mails in 2001, after an athletic department intern reported seeing Jerry Sandusky in the shower with a young boy.
They agreed their response would be to forbid Sandusky from bringing children to campus. But Spanier wondered, “Would the university be vulnerable for not having reported it?”
Spanier’s attorneys took great pains to refute much of the Freeh report, but on this item attorney Jack Riley responded, “We’re going to defer to Dr. Spanier to explain what he meant and intended by that.”
Spanier was scheduled for a network television news appearance tonight on ABC.
Another Spanier lawyer attacked the university-sanctioned report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal a “blundering and indefensible indictment” of the long-time school leader.
Defense lawyer Timothy Lewis called Louis Freeh, who had served as both FBI director and a federal judge before leading the investigation that produced the report, a “biased investigator” who piled speculation on top of innuendo to reach pre-formed conclusions.
Sandusky was convicted this year of sexually assaulting 10 boys and awaits sentencing.
Spanier, who has not been charged in the case, was not at the news conference.
Lewis says Spanier had “scant involvement” in the reports -— and had no idea either complaint was sexual in nature.
Freeh’s report, Lewis said, assumes that former graduate assistant Mike McQueary told coach Joe Paterno in 2001 that he saw something sexual in a locker room shower, and that Paterno echoed that to athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz.
Freeh likewise presumes they in turn told Spanier that McQueary saw something sexual.
“Curley and Schultz have denied that they ever told Dr. Spanier anything of the sort,” Lewis said. “Horseplay was referred to over and over again, but never with any sexual connotation. … But Judge Freeh paid no attention to that.”
“The Freeh report, as it pertains to Dr. Spanier, is a myth. And that myth … ends today,” Lewis said.
Spanier and Paterno were fired in November, a few days after Sandusky was charged.
Curley and Schultz have been charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse.
Spanier’s lawyers said they have not received any target letters to suggest Spanier is the target of a criminal investigation, and don’t know if he’ll be charged. But they said there’s not a “scintilla” of evidence to support such charges.
“That’s out of our control,” said lawyer Jack Riley, one of four Spanier lawyers at the news conference.