Attorneys for ousted Penn State President Graham Spanier condemned the Freeh report on the school's handling of child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky and personally attacked Judge Louis Freeh, calling him a self-anointed accuser who "recklessly and without justification, created victims of his own." However, the attorneys would not answer a critical question from NBC10 reporter Lu Ann Cahn about Spanier. They took very few questions from reporters.
Former federal judge and former federal prosecutor Timothy K. Lewis said that while Dr. Spanier was accused of concealing information, instead it was Freeh who either left out the truth or manipulated it when he put his report together.
"This can only be seen as a cynical attempt by a biased investigator...in order to support his version of the truth. And that is sad," Lewis said Wednesday morning in a press conference in Philadelphia, Pa.
Freeh's report alleges Spanier and late coach Joe Paterno participated in a cover-up to spare the school bad publicity. Spanier and Paterno were fired in November, a few days after Sandusky was charged.
Two other university officials -- Tim Curley and Gary Schultz -- accused of covering up Sandusky's abuse are charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse. Spanier has not been charged.
Judge Lewis said Dr. Spanier has always maintained that he never knew of a report or accusation that Sandusky sexually abused a boy in a school shower. Lewis called Sandusky a "master manipulator" who apparently "fooled everyone, possibly even his wife."
NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn asked Spanier's attorneys about a critical 2001 email written by Spanier to Penn State administrators after the Sandusky shower report. A decision was made to just talk to Sandusky. Dr. Spanier's email says, "The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it."
Jack Riley, another of Spanier's attorneys gave a cryptic response when Cahn asked what exactly Spanier meant in that email if he never had any knowledge at all about Sandusky abusing children.
"And he will explain that if and when he discusses it in public," Riley said. "But it is a different context than it has been given, so far."
A spokesperson for Judge Louis Freeh emailed us this response to Judge Lewis' criticism: "We stand by our report."
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing on 45 criminal counts involving 10 victims, some of whom were abused in locker room showers on campus.
Spanier disputed the Freeh report's findings in a letter to Penn State's trustees last month, calling it "full of factual errors'' and saying it jumps to "untrue and unwarranted'' conclusions.
In the letter, Spanier wrote he would not have turned "a blind eye'' to abuse because he himself had been beaten by his father as a child.
"It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth ... would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children,'' Spanier wrote.
Freeh's report concluded Spanier, Paterno, then athletic director Curley and former Vice President Schultz participated in a cover-up.
The report cites an e-mail from Spanier in which he agrees with a proposal from Curley -- who said he'd talked it over with Paterno -- to not report a 2001 incident involving Sandusky to the Department of Public Welfare as previously planned and instead offer him professional help.
In the e-mail, Spanier noted "the only downside for us is if the message isn't (heard) and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it.''