Years after Jerry Sandusky and Penn State dominated headlines that shocked the nation, one man just learned his fate for his role in the child sexual abuse scandal.
On Friday, former university president Graham Spanier was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of child endangerment, as reported by NBC News. Spanier was also charged with conspiracy and a second child endangerment count but was acquitted.
According to the New York Times, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said there are “zero excuses” for anyone who does not properly report child abuse.
He declared that the president and other leaders endangered children by “both their actions and inactions.”
During a public statement, he said:
"No one is above the law. My office will hold anyone accountable who abuses or fails to protect kids.”
The charges against Spanier came from an accusation that he had been made aware of Sandusky's inappropriate actions and did not alert authorities.
According to the New York Times, former assistant coach Mike McQueary saw Sandusky and a boy in the shower and informed Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, and Vice President Gary Schultz.
An email written by Spanier that was presented in court showed the decision was made to tell Sandusky he couldn't bring children to athletic facilities. Spanier told Curley and Schultz:
“The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it.”
Spanier reportedly approved putting a plan to tell the state Department of Public Welfare on hold and therefore the agency was never informed. NBC News noted that he also called the decision “humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”
USA Today reported that State Prosecutor Laura Ditka said Curley, Spanier, and Schultz decided to protect the university's reputation instead of the children. She told jurors:
“They took a gamble. They weren’t playing with dice. They were playing with kids.”
During opening statements, Penn Live reported that Prosecutor Patrick Schulte highlighted that as a result of his inaction, “evil in the form of Jerry Sandusky was allowed to run wild.”
Spanier's lawyer, Sam Silver, countered that his client made a “judgment call” and told jurors that the prosecution had failed to provide evidence that his client knew the incident was sexual.
According to USA Today, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania jury deliberated for 13 hours and Spanier “showed no emotion,” as the verdict was read.
As he left the court house, Spanier walked silently and had no comment for reporters.
The former president is currently free on bail until his sentencing, and the New York Daily News reported that he faces five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.