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Report: Federal Court Disputes Graham Spanier’s Child Endangerment Charges

A federal appeals court questioned lawyers Tuesday over whether former Penn State President Graham Spanier deserved to have his misdemeanor child endangerment conviction overturned in 2019, according to the Associated Press.

The third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals centered on whether Spanier was wrongly convicted under a 2007 law for acts that occurred in 2001. His attorneys believe the additions in the 2007 law expanded the child endangerment law to apply to those who employ or supervise. However, the attorney general’s office said he was prosecuted under the 1995 version of the law.

“This jury was never told, never, that it could convict the defendant solely on the basis that he supervised other people that were supervising the welfare of children,” Ronald Eisenberg of the attorney general’s office said.

The conviction arose from Spanier’s response to a report about former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sexual assault of a boy in a team shower. Spanier reportedly was made known of the report in early 2001, but police were not called.

In April 2019, U.S. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick ruled Spanier was improperly convicted under the 2007 version of the law. As a result, she said the conviction was “in violation of Spanier’s federal constitutional rights.”

“Spanier submits that this retroactive application is unreasonable and far more extensive than anyone in 2001 would have been able to reasonably foresee,” Mehalchick wrote. “The court agrees.”

According to the Associated Press, the judges didn’t say when they’ll come to a decision on the matter.

Spanier remains a tenured professor at Penn State but hasn’t taught any classes since the sex abuse case broke in 2011. He remains on administrative leave.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse in 2012 and is currently serving a 30-to-60-year term in a state prison at the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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