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University comment on Spanier trial decision

Penn State has issued a statement following a verdict in the trial of former University president, Graham Spanier.

First and foremost, our thoughts remain with the victims of Jerry Sandusky.

Five years ago, as the crisis emerged, Penn State’s Board of Trustees took immediate action to change the leadership of the University, instructed the administration to institute new policies and procedures, and set in motion a process to ensure the University was doing everything it could to establish a model ethics and compliance culture meant to ensure the safety of the Penn State community. The University launched a series of new initiatives with the sense of urgency demanded by the Board, while at the same time waiting for the justice system to bring a measure of resolution to the criminal cases that emerged. With today’s decision, we have that closure. 

A jury today found former President Graham Spanier guilty of one count of endangering the welfare of a child. Recently, two former senior level administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child, reportedly stating in part that, in the case of Curley: “I pleaded guilty because I felt like I should have done more,” and Schultz: “I felt I had been deficient in not reporting it myself.” The verdict, their words and pleas indicate a profound failure of leadership.  

Penn State has extraordinary expectations of our leaders, who must set and maintain the example for reporting, ethics and compliance that reflect best practices. In the view of the jury, with respect to Spanier, and by their own admission, as to Curley and Schultz, these former leaders fell short. And while we cannot undo the past, we have re-dedicated ourselves and our University to act always with the highest integrity, in affirming the shared values of our community.

Over the past five years, Penn State has taken aggressive steps to strengthen accountability and focus on the fight against child maltreatment. We have endorsed a standard of strict compliance, and we will continue our vigorous efforts to create a model culture of reporting, safety and accountability. This has led to the development of many best-in-class initiatives.

Further, beginning in 2011, Penn State made a substantial investment to create and support a network of researchers and educators to concentrate on solving the complex problems of child maltreatment. We remain firmly committed today and in the future to societal progress in the fight to protect the wellbeing of all children.

Last Updated March 24, 2017