Legal experts yesterday questioned the state attorney general’s decision to prosecute two Penn State officials for allegedly covering up a sex abuse scandal, but not charging legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, is accused of sexual conduct with eight boys he met through a charitable organization he founded between 1998 and 2009. Authorities claim Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley, Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Gary Schultz and University President Graham Spanier all knew about one alleged incident, but did not notify police.
According to the grand jury report, an assistant coach allegedly witnessed Sandusky taking a shower with a boy in 2002. The assistant told Paterno, who told Curley. Curley and Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report the incident.
“He’s been cooperative. ... He is not regarded as a target,” state AG Linda Kelly said of Paterno. “We believe that under the statute he had an obligation to report it to the administration.”
Veteran defense attorney Fortunato Perri, who is not involved in the case, questioned the fairness of the charges. “If I were their lawyer, I certainly would question why everyone who knew about this, including an assistant coach ... why [they haven’t] been charged with that same summary offense,” Perri said of the failure to report charge.
Defense attorney Michael Coard said they are all in the same boat.
“Are they guilty of a crime of omission? No. Are they guilty of a moral and ethical breach?
Absolutely and positively,” he said.
Both attorneys believe Curley and Schultz are likely being prosecuted because they allegedly lied to investigators.
Not guilty pleas entered
Both Curley and Schultz have pleaded not guilty. Schultz’s attorney Thomas J. Farrell told reporters that the law requiring school officials to report suspected child abuse does not apply to administrators, but those who have direct contact with minors.
Meanwhile, state Attorney General Linda Kelly said the investigation is ongoing, but did not comment on whether anyone else could be charged.