Former Penn State president Graham Spanier hasn't spoken publicly about Jerry Sandusky's rampage of abusing children since his forced resignation in November. Well, he broke his silence in an interview with The New Yorker.
Spanier told Jeffrey Toobin--who also doubles as a legal analyst for CNN--that he has no memory of a 1998 incident that was, in hindsight, the first warning sign that Sandusky was a child molester.
I have no recollection. I am aware, as I said in my letter to the board of trustees, that I was apparently copied on two e-mails. I didn’t reply to them. The first e-mail that I saw didn’t mention anybody’s name. It simply said something to the effect of “The employee will be interviewed tomorrow,” something like that, no name mentioned. Then, about five weeks later, I think it was, I was copied on another e-mail that said, “The interview has been completed, the investigation has been completed, nothing was found, Jerry felt badly that the kid might have felt badly,” I’m not quoting directly, of course—“And the investigation is closed and the matter is behind us.”So he knew about the exchange, but didn't explain why he didn't take any action to limit Sandusky's access to the football facilities while the investigation was underway? Or why he didn't tell the board of trustees about it? To my mind, Spanier just admitted to a gross failure of leadership.
He then talked about the 2001 shower incident. First, the now-infamous email in which he agreed that it would be "humane" to handle the matter internally rather than report it.
What I meant by “humane” was I thought it was very humane of Tim to want to go the extra mile by meeting with Jerry and saying, “Jerry, I hope you understand that we don’t want this to happen, and we’re going to tell this to Second Mile, and if you want to accompany me to that meeting with Second Mile you may come with me. ” I thought that’s a very humane way to follow up on something like that....Left unanswered is why Spanier didn't do what any school president worth his salt should have done--demand that Curley report it to the police. Toobin didn't appear to press the issue, though. I wonder if he simply wanted Spanier's words to speak for themselves.
I think what many people wanted to read into it was that it was humane for us not to turn him in for being a known child predator. But I never, ever heard anything about child abuse or sexual abuse or my antennae raised up enough to even suspect that. So I know that’s been taken out of context, and I suspect that whoever leaked those e-mails wanted them to be taken out of context....
As many of you know, Spanier effectively signed his death warrant by issuing a statement that athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz had his "unconditional support." But Spanier claims that the board approved that statement.
That statement was carefully reviewed by the chair of the board of trustees, and I presume by the vice chair of the board because he was supposed to touch base with him. It was reviewed by the university’s legal counsel. It was gone over by our university relations staff. It was not just a rash, “Let’s run out and be insensitive to potential victims and say nothing, just defend Gary Schultz and Tim Curley no matter what.” The chair of the board said, “This is exactly the statement that I would write.” He was very supportive of our issuing that statement.The board of trustees says it pushed Spanier out for making unauthorized statements to the press. It also kept Spanier effectively incommunicado from that Saturday statement until the meeting the following Wednesday in which he was forced to resign. Either the board or Spanier are lying here.
Spanier characterizes the Freeh report as "wrong" and "deeply flawed." Um, Graham? That report includes your own words. To my mind, your actions in all of this are the ones that were "wrong" and "deeply flawed"--and they may also be criminal.