Former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two other former top officials have been ordered to stand trial on charges including perjury and obstruction of justice in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
According to CNN, Harrisburg District Judge William Wenner made the decision after a two-day preliminary hearing that ended on Tuesday. The judge called it a “tragic day for Penn State University.”
State prosecutors argued that Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley each lied in front of a grand jury about their knowledge of accusations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.
"There was a conspiracy of silence," prosecutor Bruce Beemer said of the three men. "They are not relieved of criminal responsibility because their conspiracy worked for 10 years."
''When they were finally asked about (the 1998 investigation), it was 2011, and what happened in the interim?'' Beemer asked.
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Sandusky, 69, is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years after he was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 boys over 15 years.
"The magistrate has made his decision, we respect that decision, even if we disagree with it," said Spanier’s lawyer, Timothy Lewis.
The charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and failure to report child abuse stem from a 2001 incident in which then-assistant coach Mike McQueary reported having seen Sandusky engaging in sexual intercourse with a boy in a locker room on campus. Emails allegedly indicate that the three school officials decided to ban Sandusky from bringing children on campus. As CNN reports, at least three of Sandusky’s victims were abused after 2001.
''What was reported (in 2001) was not a report of any activity that was sexual in nature,'' Spanier told the grand jury in testimony, according to the Associated Press. ''I know better than to jump to conclusions about things like that.''
According to ESPN, McQueary testified on Monday that he was very clear about what he saw when he reported the incident to late head coach Joe Paterno. "I had told him that I went to the locker room the night before and that I had seen coach Sandusky engaged in a very bad sexual act, molestation act with a minor," McQueary said.
McQueary added in his testimony that Paterno had warned him against trusting Penn State. "The university can come down hard on you," McQueary testified Paterno told him in November 2011. "They're going to try to scapegoat you. Make sure you have your lawyers."
All three school officials have pleaded not guilty to the charges.