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September 27, 2012

Penn State officials lose pretrial motion on perjury

HARRISBURG — Two weeks before former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is expected to be sentenced on child molestation charges, a county judge determined that perjury charges should remain in place against two university administrators.

Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover ruled Wednesday against former Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley on the felony perjury charge they both face, but he didn’t decide on a separate request to throw out the other charge — failure to report suspected child abuse.

The perjury counts are felonies, while failure to report suspected child abuse is a summary offense, less serious than a misdemeanor. Schultz and Curley are accused of lying to the grand jury that investigated Sandusky.

The judge said the claim made by Schultz and Curley that there is insufficient evidence to corroborate the perjury charges will be more appropriately pursued during the trial. He also said prosecutors have given the defendants sufficient information about which parts of their grand jury testimony make up the perjury allegation.

“Having satisfied the request to specify the statements it will seek to prove as perjurious, we find that the commonwealth need not identify the manner in which it intends to prove the alleged falsity of each statement,” the judge wrote.

Hoover did not say when he would rule regarding the failure to properly report suspected child abuse, for which Curley and Schultz have argued the statute of limitations has expired.

Schultz, the university’s former vice president for business and finance, has retired. Curley, the athletic director, is on leave. Their trial is scheduled to begin in Harrisburg with jury selection on Jan. 7. Defense lawyers are seeking to split the criminal cases against them.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office declined to comment Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the defendants’ lawyers did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, was convicted in June on charges he sexually abused 10 boys, some on campus. He remains jailed awaiting sentencing Oct. 9.

Eight young men testified against Sandusky, describing a range of abuse they said went from grooming and manipulation to fondling, oral sex and rape when they were boys and for some included acts that occurred in Penn State team showers. One young man testified that his muffled screams from the basement of the Sandusky home in State College, where Penn State’s main campus is, went unanswered as Sandusky attacked him.

The 68-year-old Sandusky maintains his innocence, acknowledging he showered with boys but insisting he never molested them. Given his age and the serious nature of the crimes of which he was convicted, he’s likely to receive a sentence that will keep him in prison for life.

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