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Former Penn State President Launches 'Full-Throttle Defense'

Then-Penn State President Graham Spanier and then-head football coach Joe Paterno last fall, before the Jerry Sandusky scandal cost them both their jobs.
Gene J. Puskar
Then-Penn State President Graham Spanier and then-head football coach Joe Paterno last fall, before the Jerry Sandusky scandal cost them both their jobs.

Graham Spanier, who lost his job as president of Penn State University for allegedly not doing enough to investigate whether former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was molesting young boys, has "launched a full-throttle defense" against charges that he cared more about the university's reputation than Sandusky's victims, Harrisburg's Patriot-News writes.

Spanier and his attorney are firing back at The Freeh Report, named for former FBI Director Louis Freeh who was in charge of producing it, which concluded that Spanier, former head football coach Joe Paterno and two other top university officials "failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized ... [and] never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest."

In an interview with ABC News, Spanier says:

"Never in my time as president of Penn State did I ever receive a report or even a hint that Jerry Sandusky was engaged in child abuse, a sexual act, criminal activity or anything resembling that with any child. Had I known that, or even suspected it, I would have forcefully intervened. But I never heard a report like that."

He tells The New Yorker that:

"The Freeh report is wrong, it's unfair, it is deeply flawed, it has many errors and omissions. I know that they had a lot of very good people on that team working on this. They interviewed, they say, over 430 people; many of those folks have spoken to me about their interviews. Many of them describe those interviews to me as a witch-hunt. They felt like it was back in the era of McCarthyism. ...

"But if they interviewed 430 people, why did they only cite a few of them? If 400 people, for example, might have said to them, 'No, we never saw anything, we never heard anything, we've seen Graham Spanier make hundreds of decisions, he doesn't operate that way,' why not then a single mention of the other side of the story, or the other possible explanation? On what basis did they totally discount my testimony to them, that never in my 16 years as president of Penn State did any individual ever suggest to me that there was child abuse, sexual abuse, anything criminal. ..."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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