Lawyers will regroup for a second day of testimony in a hearing for three former Penn State officials ensnared in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, a day after a star witness testified that legendary head coach Joe Paterno had been critical of how the university handled it.
Tuesday’s hearing in a Harrisburg courtroom is expected to be short, with just two witnesses.
The judge, William Wenner, must decide whether prosecutors showed enough evidence against the ex-school officials to test the charges in a full trial. The charges, including perjury, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children, stem from allegations that former Penn State president Graham Spanier, retired university vice president Gary Schultz and ex-athletic director Tim Curley failed to tell police about an allegation against Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, and then tried to hide what they knew.
In Monday’s hearing, the star witness, Mike McQueary testified in a courtroom for the third time since Sandusky’s November 2011 arrest that top school officials knew that he had seen Sandusky molesting a boy in a locker room shower.
But the former Penn State assistant coach and quarterback also delivered some unexpected testimony – that the late Hall of Fame coach Paterno had told him over the years that university administrators ”screwed up” in how they responded to McQueary’s allegation against Sandusky.
Pressed by defense lawyers about his discussions of the subject, McQueary brought up a specific exchange at football practice in the hours before Paterno’s firing on Nov. 9, 2011 – four days after Sandusky’s arrest.
He recalled the head coach saying the school would come down hard on McQueary and try to make him a scapegoat. Paterno also advised McQueary not to trust the administration or then-university counsel Cynthia Baldwin, the former assistant testified.
Make sure to get your own lawyer, he said Paterno told him.
Lawyers for Spanier, Schultz and Curley say the men are innocent. Paterno died in January 2012. He has never been charged.
The core of McQueary’s testimony is that he saw Sandusky and a boy engaged in a sex act in the locker room shower in 2001 and within days reported it to Paterno, Curley and Schultz.
However, Curley and Schultz have said McQueary never reported that the encounter was sexual in nature, while Spanier has said Curley and Schultz never told him about any sort of sex abuse. They said they believed that Sandusky and the boy were engaged in nothing more than horseplay.
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence after being convicted last year of sexually abusing 10 boys. He maintains his innocence.
Much of the testimony Monday revolved around prosecutors trying to show that Penn State officials should have known to report Sandusky to police in 2001 after police investigated complaints in 1998 that he had been showering with boys in university locker rooms.
Lawyers for the defendants tried to show they never tried to hide evidence, destroyed evidence or asked school employees to lie.
McQueary last year sued the university, claiming defamation and misrepresentation and seeking millions of dollars in damages. His contract with the school wasn’t renewed after the 2011 season.