BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Jerry Sandusky’s decision Tuesday to waive his preliminary hearing shifts the focus in the child sex-abuse scandal to two Penn State administrators accused of failing to properly report suspected abuse and lying to the grand jury investigating Sandusky.
Tim Curley and Gary Schultz face their own pretrial hearing on Friday in Harrisburg, and although the charges are much different, with far less severe potential penalties, their cases could hinge on a man also expected to be a prime witness against Sandusky: assistant football coach Mike McQueary.
McQueary testified that he happened up on “rhythmic, slapping sounds” in the football team locker room showers in March 2002, and looked in to see a naked boy being sodomized by the former defensive coordinator, according to a grand jury presentment.
McQueary, then a 28-year-old graduate assistant, reported what he saw to then-football coach Joe Paterno, the grand jury said. Paterno called Curley, the university’s athletic director, the next day, and a week and a half later McQueary met with Curley and Schultz — who oversaw university police in his position as a vice president.
What precisely was said at those meetings, and what Curley and Schultz did or didn’t do afterward is at the heart of the government’s case against them.
Their lawyers have declined recent requests for comment, but previously have said the two men deny the allegations and indicated they will contest the facts alleged by the attorney general’s office and dispute how the particular offenses have been applied to them.
Also at issue are statements McQueary has made in emails that may contradict his grand jury testimony. Last weekend The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported that McQueary’s story changed when speaking to Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a family friend. The newspaper report cited a source said to be familiar with Dranov’s testimony.
“If this information is true, and we believe it is, it would be powerful, exculpatory evidence and the charges against our clients should be dismissed,” said the lawyers for Curley and Schultz, Caroline Roberto and Thomas Farrell, respectively, in a statement.
The Associated Press was unable to reach Dranov at his home and office for comment. No one answered the door at McQueary’s home Tuesday. His father, John, declined comment to the Associated Press.
Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, called McQueary the centerpiece of the prosecution’s case, and said shifting stories were helping his client.
“If anyone is naïve enough to think for a minute that Tim Curley, Joe Paterno and Gary Schultz, and for that matter, Graham Spanier, the university president, were told that he observed Jerry Sandusky having anal sex with a 10-year-old-looking kid in a shower room at Penn State, on Penn State property, and their response was simply to tell Jerry Sandusky that ‘don’t go in the shower anymore with kids,’ I suggest you dial 1-800-REALITY because that makes absolutely no sense,” Amendola said.
That number connects to a phone sex line touting gay and bi-curious sex for men.
Later, Amendola told the AP that “I’ve been using that line for years when people have said things that make no sense. It’s analagous to ‘get a life.’ I had no idea that was a real number, let alone what it actually is. I will not be using that line in the future!”
But Amendola’s statement about the case was only a recent example of how McQueary’s credibility, and the details of his testimony, may prove critical to proving or disproving the allegations against the three defendants.
The Friday preliminary hearing is meant to establish whether there is sufficient legal grounds to send the allegations to Dauphin County Common Pleas Court for a full trial, a relatively low standard and one that strongly favors the prosecution.
Curley, 57, was placed on leave by the university after his arrest. Schultz, 62, returned to retirement after spending about four decades at the school, most recently as senior vice president for business and finance, and treasurer.
Both men were released on unsecured bail. The perjury charges against them are felonies, while the charges of failure to report under the Child Protective Services Law are summary offenses, less serious than misdemeanors.
Biographies released by a spokeswoman for their lawyers on Tuesday said Curley, a State College native, was named athletic director in 1993, working his way up through the sports department after being a walk-on football player for the Nittany Lions. Schultz started working for Penn State, in 1971 after receiving an undergraduate engineering degree. He retired in 2009, then returned earlier this year on an interim basis after his successor as vice president took another job.
Amendola said Tuesday Sandusky opted to waive his preliminary hearing out of concerns it would present a one-sided view of the facts. After the brief proceeding, he stood in freezing temperatures at a podium in front of the courthouse and answered questions for an hour or more from the hundreds of reporters assembled for what had been expected to be a daylong proceeding.
A prosecutor said about 11 witnesses, most of them alleged victims, as well as McQueary, were ready to testify at the hearing.
Sandusky pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial, saying he would “stay the course, to fight for four quarters.”
Amendola said prosecutors agreed to give early warning of any further charges and to keep Sandusky’s bail at $250,000.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said Sandusky’s bail conditions were adequate and that an agreement to share discovery information would result in a trail sooner.
“Sandusky waived his rights today. We waived nothing,” said the spokesman, Nils Frederiksen.
Despite the hearing waiver, both sides said there had not been talks of a plea bargain.
“There will be no plea negotiations,” Amendola said. “This is a fight to the death.”
Sandusky was accompanied to court by his wife, Dottie, some of their adopted children and alumni of The Second Mile, an organization that he founded in 1977 to help struggling children. The grand jury report said he used the charity to meet and lure his alleged victims.
The first known abuse allegation was in 1998, when the mother told police Sandusky had showered with her son.
Accusations surfaced again in 2002, the incident involving McQueary.
The grand jury probe began only in 2009, after a teen complained that Sandusky, then a volunteer coach at his central Pennsylvania high school, had abused him.
The teen told the grand jury that Sandusky first groomed him with gifts and trips in 2006 and 2007, then sexually assaulted him more than 20 times in 2008 through early 2009.
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