Lawyer praised Penn State head in 2012
HARRISBURG — Records from a federal investigation show a lawyer whose role in the Jerry Sandusky investigation has held up the criminal prosecutions of three former top administrators praised one of them effusively just months before testifying he was “not a person of integrity.”
The notes made public Sunday by a lawyer for former Penn State president Graham Spanier indicate the university’s former general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, told the federal Office of Personnel Management in early 2012 that Spanier was very smart, “a man of integrity,” and “very forthcoming and open” with the board of trustees.
About six months later, Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, testified before a grand jury that Spanier told a series of lies and misleading statements before and after Sandusky was arrested in late 2011 on child molestation charges.
Spanier attorney Liz Ainslie said the federal investigation resulted in the restoration of Spanier’s top security clearance, although it was again taken away when he was charged in late 2012 for an alleged cover-up of complaints about Sandusky.
Baldwin’s lawyer Charles De Monaco said Friday that Baldwin’s view of Spanier changed during the summer of 2012, particularly after the release of a scathing report into the Sandusky matter produced for Penn State by former FBI director Louis Freeh.
“Much like the public at large, Justice Baldwin learned for the first time in the summer of 2012 about the conduct of the defendants as a result of documents and emails which were discussed for the first time with the release of the Freeh Report in July 2012,” De Monaco said. “For those reasons, Justice Baldwin was asked about these issues when she testified before the grand jury in October 2012.”
Ainslie said Baldwin’s grand jury testimony was “shamefully inaccurate” and had not been subject to defense questioning.
“Ms. Baldwin has so far managed to avoid cross-examination,” Ainslie said. “But that day is coming.”
Baldwin was the university’s top lawyer in early 2011, when she accompanied Spanier and the two others to grand jury appearances. The men all say they believed she was acting as their attorney.
Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley face charges of perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to properly report suspected child abuse. Spanier was charged a year after the other two.
The judge in their case last week cut short a planned four-day hearing into Baldwin’s actions, and quashed a subpoena calling for her to testify. Defense attorneys have said their clients’ rights to legal counsel were violated and are seeking to have the cases thrown out.
Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover has instructed prosecutors and defense attorneys to submit proposed findings of fact and legal conclusions, after which he will schedule oral argument on the issue.
No trial date has been scheduled.
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
He maintains his innocence and is asking the state Supreme Court to take up his case.
Spanier remains a tenured faculty member at Penn State. Curley and Schultz have retired. Baldwin served as a county judge, president of the Penn State Board of Trustees and a state Supreme Court justice before her role as the university’s general counsel involved her in the Sandusky investigation.