FOIA-hating former Penn State prez indicted

Prosecutors didn't charge former Penn State President Graham Spanier with crimes against transparency, but charging him in connection with the Jerry Sandusky cover-up is the next best thing.

Citing a "conspiracy of silence to actively conceal the truth", Pennsylvania state prosecutors on Thursday charged Spanier and two of his former underlings with hushing up child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky, the former assistant football coach sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in prison.

The underlings charged with Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz, already were charged with lying to a grand jury.

As I blogged here back in July, Spanier managed to wrangle an all-encompassing exemption from the state's Freedom of Information Act, which in Pennsylvania is called the Right to Know Law. I won't rehash the sick details (you can find my blog post here), but Spanier managed to bamboozle lawmakers into making the school practically exempt from open records laws, despite the fact that the university receives more than $276 million a year in taxpayer funds.

This took place in 2007  – long after records show Spanier and Company knew about Sandusky – when state lawmakers decided to beef up the Right to Know Law. Spanier argued that subjecting Penn State to open records scrutiny would scare off private donors and (gag) franchise contract offers, affect compensation and talent retention, and hamper proprietary research.

Spanier of course didn't say anything to lawmakers about the college's little serial sexual predator problem, but as I wrote, he had everything to gain by getting the exemption, and everything to lose if he didn't. Sandusky, in my opinion, could have been stopped years prior had lawmakers not granted Penn State the exemption.

It doesn't look like Pennsylvania's lawmakers have moved forward yet on closing this ridiculous loophole. Of course, court proceedings and most court records are open to the public.

I relish that Spanier and Company, and the clueless football zombie enablers roaming Happy Valley, will get to learn this the hard way.

Senior Writer Kevin Craver can be reached at kcraver@shawmedia.com.

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