Former Penn State President Says He Was Abuse Victim in Letter

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Gene J. Puskar / AP

Graham Spanier, former Penn State president, wrote in a letter to the university’s board of trustees that he was abused as a child and would not have turned a blind eye to abuse complaints during his tenure, reports the Harrisburg Patriot-News. The letter comes in the wake of the stunning Freeh report that argued Spanier, among other Penn State administrators, chose not to report sex abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky to the police.

Spanier said during his grand jury testimony in early 2011 that he “never heard a word about abusive or sexual behavior” from Jerry Sandusky. In this letter, he still stands by that statement. Spanier was fired shortly after the Sandusky scandal broke in November. Sandusky has since been tried and convicted of 45 criminal counts of child sexual abuse. He continues to maintain his innocence as he awaits sentencing later this year.

(MORE: Report: Ex-PSU President OK’d Not Reporting Abuse)

Spanier’s lawyer, Peter Vaira, told The Associated Press that Spanier’s father regularly doled out “disciplinary beatings” during Spanier’s childhood. He says that the beatings were so bad that Spanier had to have his nose straightened several times. The beatings, however, were never sexual in nature.

The Freeh report, which was commissioned by trustees to examine how the university dealt internally with allegations against the former defensive coordinator, accuses Spanier of working with Athletic Director Tim Curley, then-Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, and former head football coach Joe Paterno to “actively conceal” accusations about Sandusky from authorities. Curley and Schultz both face perjury charges for allegedly lying to the grand jury about the Sandusky allegations. Spanier has not been charged.

(MORE: Penn State Probe: Freeh Report Reveals Paterno, Administrators Concealed Facts)

However, that may soon change. The email exchange shows that Curley and Schultz intended to report the allegation, but then reconsidered. Spanier wrote that he was “supportive” of their plan but worried the university might “become vulnerable for not having reported it.” In the three-page letter that he sent to the trustees, Spanier denies participating in any such plan. “It is unfathomable and illogical to think…someone who experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child…would have knowingly turned a blind eye to child abuse,” Spanier wrote of himself in the letter.

He also attacks the Freeh report for misrepresenting his actions during the grand jury probe. Spanier maintains that he was “guided by and followed all instruction from the University’s General Counsel,” former state Supreme Court justice and former Penn State trustee Cynthia Baldwin throughout the process.

READ: ‘Every Day Was a Mistake’: How Should Penn State Deal with Joe Paterno?