HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Penn State’s former president and two other officials from the university must face trial on criminal charges they tried to hamper the investigation into assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual molestation of boys, a Pennsylvania judge ruled on Wednesday.
The university’s ex-President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, and ex-Vice President Gary Schultz are also accused of failing to report to authorities suspected sexual abuse by Sandusky.
They were charged in 2012 with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, perjury and endangering the welfare of children, in an ongoing legal saga that has continued to tarnish the image of Pennsylvania State University.
Sandusky, 70, was convicted in 2012 of molesting 10 boys, some on the Penn State campus and some at his home in State College or elsewhere, in a case that drew international attention. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
The three former university officials, in seeking to prevent the case from going to trial, argued that their former attorney Cynthia Baldwin’s testimony before a grand jury investigating Sandusky’s conduct violated their attorney-client privilege.
They also argued that Baldwin, while appearing to represent them, was only representing the university.
Dauphin County Common Pleas Judge Todd Hoover, in ordering a trial to proceed, ruled that Baldwin represented both the university and the three men as “agents of the university,” while acknowledging the late football coach Joe Paterno brought his own lawyer when he appeared before the grand jury in 2011.
The judge ruled that Penn State properly waived the attorney-client privilege to allow Baldwin to testify to the grand jury about the school’s internal investigation of Sandusky, including the role of the three defendants.
He did not identify who at Penn State approved the waiver.
“We respectfully disagree with Judge Hoover’s decision, and we intend to appeal,” said Timothy Lewis, who represents Spanier.
No trial date has been set for the defendants, and appeals to higher courts in Pennsylvania can take months.
The three defendants were fired by Penn State’s Board of Trustees after their indictment in 2012.
Prosecutors say they lied to a grand jury when they said they were unaware of a 1998 allegation that Sandusky had showered with a boy.
The three men also are accused of failing to report allegations by Michael McQueary, a graduate assistant with the football team, when he told Paterno in 2001 he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a shower.
Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker