Penn State ex-officials’ case heads to appeals court hearing

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MGN Online

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A long delayed criminal case against three former Penn State administrators accused of covering up complaints about Jerry Sandusky is heading to a Pennsylvania courtroom next month, but not for trial.

Superior Court – a state appeals court – last week scheduled oral argument before a three-judge panel in Harrisburg for Aug. 11 to consider the claims by Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz regarding a county judge’s decision earlier this year.

If upheld, the judge’s order could clear the way for trial in the matter that has gone on for nearly four years without a trial date being set.

The appeals court file has been sealed, but the online docket indicates the men are appealing a January order by Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover that rejected arguments they had made about the fairness and legality of the grand jury investigation that resulted in charges.

All three defendants held high-ranking positions at the university in 2011, when Sandusky, the former assistant football coach, was charged with sexual abuse of children; Spanier was president, Schultz was vice president for business and finance and Curley was athletic director.

Schultz and Curley were first charged along with Sandusky in November 2011, and the attorney general’s office charged Spanier in 2012. Messages left for their defense attorneys were not immediately returned on Monday.

Hoover ruled in January that the three defendants’ rights were not violated by the actions of Penn State’s then-general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, during grand jury proceedings. Hoover determined that Baldwin had represented them as university employees, and that they were not denied the right to legal counsel.

The judge also rejected defense claims concerning conflict of interest, violations of attorney-client privilege and allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

The role of Baldwin, who also is a former state Supreme Court justice, has been the focus of considerable court action in the case, much of it sealed or done in closed proceedings.

All three defendants face charges of perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to properly report suspected abuse. They have vigorously denied the allegations.

Sandusky, 71, is currently serving a 30- to 60-year sentence at a high-security state prison in southwestern Pennsylvania. He is pursuing a county-level appeal under the state’s Post-Conviction Relief Act, and prosecutors have until Sept. 1 to file their answer.

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