Judge to weigh Penn St. ex-president Spanier’s jail sentence

The Penn State president who was forced out as the school’s top administrator after Jerry Sandusky was arrested nearly a decade ago is  expected in court for a hearing about his own pending criminal sentence

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Penn State president who was forced out as the school’s top administrator after Jerry Sandusky was arrested nearly a decade ago was expected in court Wednesday for a hearing about his own pending criminal sentence.

A judge will determine if and when Graham Spanier must report to jail to begin serving time for a single misdemeanor conviction of endangering the welfare of children.

Spanier was charged in 2012 and convicted by a jury in March 2017 but appeals have allowed him to avoid serving the jail time of at least two months behind bars, followed by three months of house arrest.

Spanier has said the abuse of the boy was characterized to him as horseplay. He and other top administrators did not notify police, and 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 spoke at sentencing, telling the judge that he regretted not intervening more forcefully.

The attorney general’s office in January asked Judge John Boccabella to enforce the sentence, after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a magistrate judge’s decision last year that had thrown out Spanier’s conviction.

Spanier has asked to be put on house arrest with electronic monitoring, and prosecutors have told the judge they would support work release with medical furloughs. Spanier had heart surgery in 2019 and has an advanced stage of prostate cancer, according to his lawyers.

Sandusky was first charged in November 2011, and a few days later Spanier was out as university president. A university spokesperson this week described Spanier as a tenured faculty member on administrative leave who is not teaching classes.

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