HARRISBURG, Pa. â€” Two former Penn State administrators pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanour child endangerment in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case, more than five years after the scandal rocked the university and led to the downfall of football coach Joe Paterno.
Ex-Athletic Director Tim Curley and former university Vice-President Gary Schultz originally were charged with felonies. The reduced charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. A sentencing date was not immediately set.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier was also charged in the scandal. The case against him appears to be moving forward, with jury selection set for next week.
The three handled a 2001 complaint by a graduate assistant who said he saw Sandusky, a retired member of the coaching staff, sexually abusing a boy in a team shower. They did not report the matter to police or child welfare authorities but told Sandusky he could not bring children onto the campus anymore.
Sandusky was not arrested until a decade later. He was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.
Shortly after Sandusky’s arrest, Paterno was fired over his handling of the matter. Paterno, one of the winningest coaches in college football history, died of lung cancer a few months later at age 85. He was never charged with a crime.
Schultz and Curley were arrested in 2011, Spanier in 2012.
The three former administrators at Penn State’s flagship campus in State College had also faced charges of conspiracy. Each felony count carried the possibility of seven years in prison.
Their case dragged on for years because of a dispute about their representation by Penn State’s chief counsel during a grand jury appearance. That fight led a court to throw out several charges, including perjury and obstruction.
Penn State’s costs related to the Sandusky scandal are approaching a quarter-billion dollars.
That includes a recent $12 million verdict in the whistleblower and defamation case brought by Mike McQueary, the former graduate coaching assistant whose testimony helped convict Sandusky in 2012.
The university has also paid $93 million in settlements with 33 people who claimed they were sexually abused by Sandusky. In addition, the NCAA fined Penn State $48 million, which is now going toward anti-child-abuse efforts in Pennsylvania.
The NCAA imposed other heavy sanctions against the football program over the scandal, cutting scholarships, barring the team from post-season play, and stripping Penn State and Paterno of 112 victories dating to 1998. The NCAA later eased its penalties, including restoring the wins.
McQueary went to Paterno’s home a day after the shower encounter to discuss what he had seen. Paterno alerted Curley and Schultz, and McQueary met with both of them about a week later.
It was not until nine years later that an anonymous email sent to a district attorney led investigators to approach McQueary in the case.
Mark Scolforo And Marc Levy, The Associated Press