January 23, 2016 / 5:38 AM / 2 years ago

Court quashes obstruction charges against Ex-Penn State officials in Sandusky scandal

(Reuters) - A Pennsylvania appeals court on Friday threw out obstruction charges against three former Penn State officials accused of trying to hamper the child molestation case against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, court documents show.

Ex-Penn State President Graham Spanier, former athletic director Timothy Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz still have to answer charges of child endangerment and failure to report suspected child abuse, following the Pennsylvania Superior Court’s decision.

Quashing the obstruction and conspiracy charges, the court ruled that former university lawyer Cynthia Baldwin had breached attorney-client privilege when she testified to a grand jury in 2012 about the three men and what she believed they knew about the abuse allegations.

Attorneys for the three accused had argued that Baldwin’s testimony fundamentally tainted the case against them.

“We agree that Ms. Baldwin’s grand jury testimony was improper,” the appeals panel judges said in the ruling.

Former Penn State Senior vice president for Finance and Business at Penn State University Gary Schultz arrives at his arraignment on perjury charges in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, November 7, 2011. REUTERS/Pat Little

It was unclear if Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane would appeal.

Sandusky, 71, is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years for molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period, some in the campus football showers.

Convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky (C), a former assistant football coach at Penn State University, leaves after his appeal hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Pat Little

Prosecutors said Spanier, Curley, and Schultz covered up Sandusky’s crimes in a “conspiracy of silence” to protect the image of the school, a powerhouse in the world of college football.

The school’s late head football coach, Joe Paterno, who was fired after Sandusky’s arrest in November 2011, was also aware of the incident, prosecutors have said.

Perjury charges against Spanier and Schultz were also dropped. They had been accused of lying to a grand jury when they said they were unaware of a 1998 allegation that Sandusky had showered with a boy.

Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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