Will Penn State’s Spanier be charged?

It was a 200-page bomb that Louis Freeh dropped on Penn State University Thursday. No one was spared. Everyone was hit. Especially wounded was former head football coach Joe Paterno and former president Graham Spanier.

Freeh laid it out clearly. He said Spanier, Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz “repeatedly concealed critical facts related to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities.”

Schultz and Curley were arrested and charged and await a trial date in Dauphin County.

Paterno is dead, although legal analysts tell us that if he were alive he might very well face perjury charges.

That leaves the former school president and one big, dangling question: why hasn't Spanier been charged?

The smoking gun appears to be in the Freeh report. His first exhibit shows an email exchange, in which Spanier was included, regarding an alleged assault in a Penn State shower in 1998. On page 11 of the grand jury's report on the Sandusky case it states, “Spanier denied being aware of a 1998 University Police investigation of Sandusky for incidents with children in football building showers.”

That certainly appears to be perjury, easily discovered in public documents. The attorney general's office will not comment, saying the investigation is ongoing and active, but Harrisburg attorney Walter Cohen was the Pennsylvania Attorney General in 1995. He's allowed to talk.

“I think it is likely that he will get charged,” Cohen said. “What the charges are, I think it would be perjury and I think it probably will be endangering a child.”

It appears Freeh led prosecutors to water, so why aren't they drinking by arresting Spanier? One answer could be the grand jury, which meets just one week a month in Harrisburg.

“It wouldn't have to come from the grand jury,” said Fran Chardo, Dauphin County's First Assistant District Attorney. “I would say that many, many prosecutors, when they have perjury before a grand jury, prefer to go back to that grand jury to ask for a presentment rather than just filing a criminal complaint.”

Chardo says prosecutors must carefully comb through the evidence when deciding exactly what charges to bring. For instance, child endangerment laws changed in 2007 and may not be applicable. In other instances, the statute of limitations may have run out. It's also possible prosecutors are still gathering even more evidence to make a strong case, as it did against Sandusky.

Spanier has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. He insists he was never told of anything sexual or criminal by Jerry Sandusky.

But his legal team is no doubt pouring through the Freeh report and preparing Spanier's defense. Karl Rominger, a Sandusky defense attorney, offers a little insight. He says he'd probably reach out to prosecutors and ask if charges are coming and try to arrange his client's surrender outside the glare of television cameras.

“There's no benefit in Graham Spanier speaking, so he's not gonna do that,” Rominger said. “There's no benefit in sending out any releases until you know what the charges are gonna be. So, if I'm Graham Spanier's attorney, I'm just hunkering down and waiting to see what happens.”

That's pretty much what the rest of us have to do. But analysts and insiders tell us that something will be happening, charges will be coming. It's now just a matter of when.

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