Penn State ex-officials’ case heads to appeals court hearing
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The criminal case against three former high-ranking Penn State administrators is headed to a Pennsylvania appellate courtroom, nearly four years after two of them were first charged. A decision against them could clear the way for trial.
The group of Superior Court sessions in a state Capitol courtroom on Tuesday will address the actions of Penn State’s then-general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, as the men were being investigated for an alleged cover-up of child sex abuse complaints against Jerry Sandusky.
The judges are expected to conduct three separate half-hour sessions, one each for former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley.
The appellate court file is sealed, so the precise nature of the legal dispute is somewhat clouded. But the appeals were launched after a January order by Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover that rejected their arguments attacking the fairness and legality of the process that led to charges.
“The focus of the discussion is expected to be a response to the appeal of the Penn State administrators in regards to the status of Cynthia Baldwin,” said Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the three.
Hoover ruled Baldwin had represented them as university employees and that they were not denied the right to legal counsel. He also rejected claims about conflict of interest, violations of attorney-client privilege and allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
Curley’s lawyer said his client would not be in the courtroom for the session, Schultz’s attorney declined comment of any kind and Spanier’s did not return messages seeking comment on Monday.
Curley and Schultz were first charged in November 2011, at the same time as Sandusky, and a year later state prosecutors added charges against Spanier, who had been forced out as a result of the scandal.
All three are currently accused of perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to properly report suspected abuse.
The judge in Sandusky’s own criminal case, now on appeal, pushed it to trial by the summer of 2012, when the former assistant football coach under Joe Paterno was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys. Sandusky, 71, is serving 30 to 60 years in Greene state prison.
But the former administrators’ case has moved much more slowly, largely because of the legal dispute surrounding Baldwin’s role and whether it violated their right to legal counsel, and whether grand jury secrecy rules were violated.
A three-judge Superior Court panel will hear the three arguments, which could occur in late morning or early afternoon. All three men are free on bail.
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