On Monday, March 13, 2017, Tim Curley, the former Penn State Athletic Director, and Gary Schultz, former senior vice president, both plead guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of children. The pair entered their guilty pleas at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in front of Senior Judge John Boccabella.
The plea was part of a sealed agreement by Curley and Shultz. It is suspected that the pair will testify at next week’s trial for the prosecution against the sole remaining defendant, former Penn State president Graham Spanier. The charge that each plead guilty to is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The pair’s agreement did not extend to their sentencing, however.
Judge Boccabella was adamant about that, saying, “There is no provision of the agreement that would limit my ability to impose sentence as I see fit.”
Curley and Schultz’s Guilty Plea
The guilty pleas are the latest chapter in a scandal that rocked Penn State University and its prestigious football program. In February of 2001, former assistant coach Mike McQueary stated under oath that he saw Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the showers at Penn State. McQueary reported the assault to former coach Joe Paterno, who in turn reported it to his supervisor, Tim Curley.
According to the prosecutors, none of the administration who were informed reported the assault to any of the proper authorities, including the police, or youth services. Additionally, none of them made any effort to follow up on the incident or locate the minor involved.
According to reports, neither Curley or Shultz made a statement to the court. They merely answered the standard questions from the court that follow a guilty plea; that is, did they understand what the plea entailed, and were they entering the plea of their own free will.
Spanier remains the only defendant of the three to go to court in what is sure to be a highly publicized affair. The charges and trial have been making their way through the Pennsylvania courts since 2013, when the three were originally charged.
Graham Spanier’s Remaining Charges
In 2016, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the three did not have appropriate legal representation in 2011 when they appeared at a grand jury. Cynthia Baldwin, the general counsel for Penn State at the time, was in the courtroom when the trio testified. Even though Spanier identified Baldwin as his attorney, she later went on to testify against him, in what Curley, Shultz, and Spanier argued was a breach of attorney/client privilege.
An initial decision by Dauphin County Court Judge Todd Hoover disagreed with the argument, paving the way for Baldwin to testify against the three in a spate of charges. The charges included perjury, obstruction of justice, and multiple conspiracy charges. The three appealed the decision, and the Superior Court agreed, quashing all but a handful of charges against the three.
Spanier still faces charges of child endangerment and failure to report suspected child abuse. Curley’s remaining charges were child endangerment, perjury, and failure to report suspected child abuse. Schultz had charges of child endangerment and conspiracy to child endangerment.
The plea agreement voids the remaining charges for Curley and Shultz, as the prosecution dropped those as part of the plea agreement. On the remaining misdemeanor charge, it is unlikely that Curley or Shultz will face any jail time.
Jerry Sandusky, the abuser at the core of the case, was since tried and found guilty of 45 criminal charges related to indecent assault, unlawful contact with minors and endangering the welfare of children. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 2012, the minimum that his charges carried.
McQueary, the assistant coach who reported the case, was awarded a $7.3 million settlement in 2016 relating to a defamation case against Penn State.
[Featured Image by Brad Bower (left), Matt Rourke/AP Images]