Case vs. three Penn State officials to move ahead

slideshow-040913-psu-helmet-uspresswire.jpg

Case vs. three Penn State officials to move ahead

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Three former Penn State administrators accused of covering up abuse complaints about Jerry Sandusky lost a set of rulings Tuesday, allowing their criminal cases to move forward.

Judge Barry Feudale denied an attempt to throw out the grand jury report backing up the accusations and ruled against two other defense requests. As the judge who oversaw the grand jury, Feudale said he no longer has jurisdiction.

Feudale said he would not have granted the defendants' request that the charges be thrown out and emphasized that the case was out of his hands once the grand jury issued its report. But the judge did provide an analysis of the defense arguments that, he said, led him to conclude their motions lacked merit.

Defendants Gary Schultz, Tim Curley and Graham Spanier are charged with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy.

The three had sought to exclude the testimony of Penn State's former general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, based on her actions as she accompanied the men to grand jury appearances in Harrisburg in early 2011. The defendants argued that Baldwin's actions violated their right to legal counsel, but Feudale said it "strains credulity to infer that they were somehow deluded or misrepresented by attorney Baldwin."

"In hindsight, perhaps I erred in not asking follow up questions about the role of corporate counsel Baldwin," Feudale wrote. "I regret and perhaps committed error in not asking any follow-up questions, but while I am unaware what the response would have been, I fail to discern how such would persuade me at this stage why presentments should be dismissed."

The attorney general's office and a spokeswoman for Curley's legal team offered no immediate comment. Lawyers for Spanier and Schultz did not immediately return phone messages.

Sandusky, a retired Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted in June of abusing several boys, some on campus. Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence but maintains his innocence and is pursuing appeals.

Curley is on paid leave to finish out the final year of his contract as the school's athletic director. Schultz has retired as the university's vice president for business and finance. Spanier was forced out as university president the week after the other two and Sandusky were charged, but he remains a tenured faculty member.

The grand jury's report described in detail the behind-the-scenes conversations and decisions being made in late 2010 and in 2011 among the men, as Baldwin met with them after they were subpoenaed as part of the Sandusky investigation.

"Each personally and directly assured her that they knew of no information or documents involving alleged misconduct or inappropriate conduct by Jerry Sandusky," the grand jury wrote.

Baldwin testified to the grand jury that Spanier "specifically requested that she keep him informed of everything regarding (the Sandusky) investigation," the jury wrote.

In November, Curley and Schultz joined together to file one motion to prevent Baldwin from taking the stand against them.

The motion said Baldwin had violated attorney-client privilege by disclosing what they told her about the Sandusky matter, and that lawyers may not testify against their clients. Spanier filed a similar motion and made a similar argument.

Feudale said his review of Baldwin's testimony led him to conclude it was "circumspect and circumscribed. It was not a violation of the lawyer-client privilege, but rather was related to her belated awareness of the commission of alleged criminal acts and was in accordance with her responsibilities as an officer of the court."

Baldwin, who spent two years on the state Supreme Court, appointed by then-Gov. Ed Rendell, is also a former chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees. The university replaced her as general counsel last year.

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

About midway through Monday night's Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremony, the oldest inductee of this year's class paid homage to the youngest.

That's how much hoops legend George Raveling, a 1960 Villanova graduate, was blown away by Penn alum Ibrahim Jaaber's impassioned speech that ended with a powerful poem about how basketball saved him.

"It kept running through my mind that you represent everything good about sports," Raveling said to Jaaber. "And I hope you'll continue to use your wisdom, your influence, to make the game better, to make the world better. As a 79-year-old-man, soon to be 80 in June, I want to tell you that if I come back in the next life, I want to be like you."

That touching moment, in many ways, was a perfect encapsulation of the ties that bind the Big 5, from one generation to the next. But aside from Raveling and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon -- who, despite battling Alzheimer's, courageously gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation at the Palestra -- this year's class was filled with contemporary guards who clashed in some great Big 5 games not too long ago.

Among them were two current NBA players in Saint Joseph's icon Jameer Nelson (class of 2004) and former 'Nova star Randy Foye (2006), as well as Temple's Lynn Greer (2002) and Jaaber (2007). La Salle women's player Carlene Hightower (2008) was the other member of the star-studded class defined by tough, gritty Philadelphia guards.

"The inductees here for the Hall of Fame have got to be maybe the greatest class we've ever put together," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who closed the night by accepting the Big 5 Coach of the Year award right after Josh Hart took home Player of the Year honors. "I grew up in Philadelphia and we always talk about what a great place the Palestra is -- and it is. But when you listen to Lynn, Randy, Coach Rav, Ibby, Jameer, you know why this is a great place. It's because of all the great man that have played here -- outstanding, humble, articulate, intelligent men that understand they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. That's what makes the Big 5. That's what makes the Palestra."

Nelson, the National Player of the Year during St. Joe’s historic 2003-04 season, certainly showed what kind of person he is, inviting all of his old Hawks teammates who were in attendance to stand behind him as he accepted his Hall of Fame award. And he even choked up at one point as he described what those teammates, coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's University have meant to him as he's forged a long and fruitful NBA career.

"Without them, none of this would be possible," said Nelson, the Hawks' all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713). "These guys mean the world to me."

Nelson, now with the Denver Nuggets, just wrapped up his 13th season in the NBA, calling it an "unbelievable ride" for a 5-foot-11 kid from Chester. That's two more years spent in the league than Foye, who Nelson thanked for forcing him to be better back in their college days. He also called Greer one of his "great friends" and said that Jaaber's speech "touched me in so many different ways, I wish more young kids could hear it."

"I'm very grateful to be inducted with you guys," Nelson said, although he did point out that when he was at St. Joe's, the Hawks had Villanova down 43-9 at halftime one year. 

"But those next couple years, we payed y'all back," said Foye, now with the Brooklyn Nets, during his own speech.

Those rivalries were especially meaningful to Foye, who also played against Jaaber in both high school and college.

"Being from North Jersey, you never hear about the Big 5," said Foye, a first-team All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in 2006. "For me coming here and witnessing it up close and personal, it's just something truly amazing."

Foye added that everywhere he goes, he tries to embody what a Philly guard is -- "small but play big," as he put it -- while reminding people that he's proud to be a Villanova alum. The same can be said of Raveling, a longtime college coach and executive who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

"I'm so proud to say I'm a Big 5 product -- and a proud graduate of Villanova University," Raveling said. "I look back many times and realize the wisest decision I ever made in my lifetime was to enroll at Villanova University."

Just as he opened his speech, Raveling also closed it by saying he was "proud" to enter the Big 5 Hall of Fame the same year as Jaaber, whose remarks touched on spirituality, family and a unique journey from Morocco to New Jersey to Penn.

Jaaber also made sure to thank the person who perhaps embodies the Big 5 more than anyone else: former La Salle player, former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"I don't think I could have had a better coach for me in my situation than my Coach Dunphy," said Jaaber, the 2006-07 Big 5 Player of the Year and the all-time Ivy League leader in steals (303). "I'm almost embarrassed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame before Coach Dunphy."

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood's Collin Gillespie, the Philadelphia Catholic League's MVP, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Villanova and play for Jay Wright.

Gillespie, during his senior year, averaged 24.1 points per game. The 6-foot-2 guard lead Archbishop Wood to their first Catholic League title in school history and followed that up with a PIAA State Championship game victory -- also a first for the school. Along with the league MVP, Gillespie was named Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News.

"We are excited to have Collin and his family join the Nova Nation," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "Collin comes from a great program at Archbishop Wood and has been well prepared by John Mosco. His guard skills, basketball IQ and winning instincts will be a welcome addition to our program."

Gillespie will join previously announced signees Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia) and Jermaine Samuels (Rivers School, Weston, Mass.) in Villanova's class of 2021.