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Midstate attorneys weigh in on leaked PSU e-mails - abc27 WHTM

Midstate attorneys weigh in on leaked PSU e-mails

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Jerry Sandusky Jerry Sandusky
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

E-mails uncovered by CNN are shedding light on a possible cover-up at Penn State.

The report focuses on four e-mails allegedly exchanged between three Penn state officials about the 2001 shower incident, where Mike McQueary said he saw Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a little boy.

In those e-mails, top university officials discussed whether to report alleged abuse by Jerry Sandusky. At first, they decided to report, but then changed their minds.

Former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley are awaiting trial on charges they lied to the grand jury and failed to report suspected child abuse.

Legal experts say if these e-mails are true those accusations are solidified. Attorneys also say the e-mails are a smoking gun against former university President, Graham Spanier.

Defense attorney Rich Wagner says if true, the e-mails spell civil lawsuit for the university.

"It boils down to individual persons who have potentially criminal responsibility for failing to fulfill their duties making the reports," said Wagner.

Namely, Spanier, because he allegedly wrote:

"The only downside for us is if the message isn't heard and acted upon and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it."

"It does look like he's referring to his obligation under law to report," Dauphin County first assistant district attorney Fran Chardo said. "So I think that would pose a real problem for him in a perjury investigation, depending on the questions and answers he gave."

Chardo says that report is sealed, so it's too soon to tell if Spanier will be charged with perjury. However, a charge he's likely to avoid is child endangerment.

"The law, as it exists today, would cover Graham Spanier if he prevented someone from making a report. But that law changed in January 2007 to make that a crime," Chardo said.

Since the shower incident happened before that, in 2001, the amended law can't apply.

The e-mail that really has people talking is from Curley.

"After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps," the email read.

"These are second hand references to conversations with coach Paterno. So I don't think we can draw any real conclusions," said Chardo.

The Paterno family lawyer issued a statement to abc27 News Sunday afternoon:

"As he testified, when informed of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky in 2001, coach Paterno followed university procedures and promptly and fully informed his superiors. He believed the matter would be thoroughly and professionally investigated, and he did not interfere with or attempt to compromise any investigation."

Schultz and Curley are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing in Harrisburg on July 11.

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