Federal Judge Throws Out Former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s Child Endangerment Conviction

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s child endangerment conviction has been thrown out by a federal judge, according to the Associated Press. Spanier was previously ordered to begin his prison sentence at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Spanier was convicted on charges of child endangerment in March 2017 and has been out on bail ever since. The charges stem from his response to allegations of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual misconduct.

Prosecutors argued that Spanier was guilty after receiving a report in 2001 that Mike McQueary saw Jerry Sandusky molesting a boy in the showers of the Lasch Building, and did not report it to authorities. The defense insisted that Spanier never fully understood the sexual nature of the report that came across his desk from former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz.

Spanier has continuously appealed his verdict and sentencing, most recently asking a federal court to vacate his conviction after the appeal was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

His attorneys argued the conviction should be overturned because it was based on a criminal statute that was not in effect until six years after Spanier received the report in 2001. Changes to the child endangerment law in 2007 added liability for those who did not directly supervise a child but employed or supervised someone who did (like Spanier). They argued the jury was also wrongly instructed that they could convict Spanier on the later statute.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick ruled Tuesday in Scranton agreeing that Spanier was improperly charged under the 2007 law for what occurred in 2001, giving state prosecutors three months to retry Spanier.

Geoff Rushton contributed to this post.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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