Former Penn State President Criticizes Former General Counsel For Failures In Sandusky Scandal

We have previously discussed the role of former General Counsel Cynthia Baldwin in the disastrous handling of the Sandusky scandal by Penn State. Baldwin is cited in the Freeh Report for her alleged failure to fully informed university officials and her opposition to an independent review that might have protected the university from the scandal and recently imposed heavy penalties against the school. Now former Penn State president Graham Spanier is joining in that criticism, saying that Baldwin failed to hire an experienced law firm during the grand jury probe.

The recently announced NCAA sanctions included Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998.

Spanier said that, as an abused child himself, he would have acted if Baldwin had fully informed him of the allegations.

Had I known then what we now know about Jerry Sandusky, had I received any information about a sexual act in the shower or elsewhere, or had I had some basis for a higher level of suspicion about Sandusky, I would have strongly and immediately intervened. Never would I stand by for a moment to allow a child predator to hurt children. I am personally outraged that any such abusive acts could have occurred in or around Penn State and have considerable pain that it could perhaps have been ended had we known more sooner.

He told trustees in a five-page letter that Baldwin failed to give him key details during a grand jury’s investigation of Jerry Sandusky and that she kept him in the dark despite receiving subpoenas from prosecutors who were interviewing top administrators. He also said that Baldwin failed to prepare him for a grand jury investigation while “much to my surprise (Baldwin) handed over to the judge a thumb drive containing my entire history of emails back to 2004.”

Baldwin is a former state Supreme Court justice who chaired the Penn State Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2006.

Baldwin has not responded and her legal representatives noted that legal ethics obligations compelled her to remain silent. Those obligations usually refer to the continued need to protect the confidentiality of her client. However, when a client attacks an attorney and accuses her of wrongdoing, an attorney is usually allowed to respond.

If Baldwin was trying to protect the President and the university, she failed to do so. The alleged opposition to an independent investigation had a particularly negative impact on the university. Such an investigation would have gone a long way in showing no effort to coverup the allegations and to be proactive in response to the scandal. The failure to inform the former president that his emails had been handed over to prosecutors is also a problematic omission if true. Baldwin was in a tough position with a criminal investigation in the field. She had to avoid any allegation of tampering with evidence or witnesses. However, the former president did have a right to know about productions of evidence in the case that would be relevant to his grand jury testimony.

The impression left by the Freeh Report is that the university lawyers failed to protect the interests of the school but being too defensive and obstructive. If so, this would not be the first time that schools did greater harm to themselves by adopting a defensive and passive stance. However, Baldwin is entitled to a response on such matters and, in light of the former president’s attack, I do not see what legal ethics rules would not allow some response. Usually such disclosures occur during formal proceedings. Under Pennsylvania ethics rules, a lawyer may reveal confidential information to establish a claim or defense when accused by a client of wrongdoing to establish a defense to proceedings brought against the lawyer. PA-R 1.6(c)(3). Moreover, a lawyer may reveal confidences or secrets “to establish or collect his fee or to defend himself or his employees or associates against an accusation of wrongful conduct.” DR 4-101(C)(4).

One obvious step for Baldwin is to seek a waiver from the university to allow her to respond to these attacks by Freeh and Spanier. It might not give it or require approval of a statement by Baldwin. However, if she is concerned about the disclosures, that would be an expected move in such a circumstance. There is also the question of defamation if Spanier’s account is false about failing to inform him of critical facts and opposing the appointment of experienced independent counsel. However, such actions are frowned upon by the courts and the bar.

While there is a legitimate basis to question the decisions made by Baldwin, Spanier may be putting too much blame on others. He was clearly informed of the allegations though perhaps not as detailed as he would have wanted. He had ultimate authority to demand more information and more action in this matter.

Baldwin has had an impressive career with many notable distinctions. After graduating from Duquesne Law School, she served as a Fulbright Lecturer and Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution. She was a trial judge in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas for 16 years and then appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University from 1995 until 2010 and chaired the board from 2004-2007.

Here is the letter: Spanier Letter

Source: ABA Journal and and Trib Live

39 thoughts on “Former Penn State President Criticizes Former General Counsel For Failures In Sandusky Scandal

  1. Cat, mouse….. Mouse, elephant….. mouse, elephant, tiger…… The food chain continues….. The mouse and lion are natural enemies of the elephant……..

    I wonder if a disciplinary request has been filed…..

  2. Disciplinary Request!

    This is a den of thieves and a snakepit. It’s almost fun watching it play out but for the fact that you have to spend so much money on anti-nausea medications or you keep losing your lunch. Can you just see a new reality show: “PENN STATE.”

  3. As I just stated on another thread the collective “we” put yoo much faith that those with authority really think about the decisions they make. When you get to be the President of a large institution like Penn State, a large corporation, or even country, you spend your time going from meeting to meeting. Only the most competent administrators insist on “downtime” for reflection upon the decisions they must make. This is why we see so much blame placed on subordinates after the fact.

  4. The State AG at the time was Tom Corbett and there are many questions raised by the way his office didn’t do their job in the PSU rape investigation. Oddly enough the Freeh report appears to have ignored those questions and the national media has given the now governor a pass. Some local papers are asking the questions and getting stonewalled.

    There are plenty of people who should be in jail or have their public careers brought to a close over this deal. The list is just forming

  5. Frankly Corbett is getting a pass on a lot of what he is doing.
    As for Baldwin, et al, the best defense is a good offense. And it is easier to clear a conscience if you can blame someone else for your failure

  6. What Mespo said. These are two dirty administrators biting each other’s noses and blaming the other guy. If they were so concerned with protecting children, they wouldn’t have hid the information for years.
    Gov. Corbett needs to answer some questions and he needs to answer them immediately..

  7. As matters continue to move along on their present course, in a few months we will be reading a letter from Corbett similar to the one Spanier just released.

    It takes years to get these pedophile enablers as the recent sentencing of that priest in Philadelphia proves:

    “You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong,” said Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of Common Pleas Court as she imposed the sentence …

    Lynn, 61, was found guilty June 22 of child endangerment after a three-month trial that revealed efforts over decades by the Philadelphia archdiocese to play down accusations of child sexual abuse and avoid scandal.” ( )

    This particular investigation has “miles to go” before its completion. Corbett is already in the pipeline, he just refuses to see it … like so much else he refused to see.

    Once the Catholic Church lost its ability to protect pedophiles, the gig was up for other large institutions. Malisha referred to this place in time in reference to another matter on another thread but it applies here … we call it the “tipping point”.

  8. leejcaroll,

    Yes, it was gratifying. The sentence was just 6 months short of the max allowed so the creep will have to sit in prison for at least 3 years before being eligible for parole.

  9. A bully club is essentially a love-hate relationship it would seem.

    These bully worship aficionados were all lovey dovey until their local congregation fell apart.

    Now they castigate one another as the hate side of the meme complex emerges.

  10. Blouise, Thanks for that clarification, I was not aware of that and feared he would be able to get out in a few m onths.

  11. leejcaroll,

    Oh I’m sure his lawyers will try to accomplish that through the appeal process … they wanted an ankle bracelet, house arrest or just probation. He’s still out there as his bail hearing is set for August 6th.

    “This is a very different type of case,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “We held a person responsible who did not abuse children himself but indirectly allowed for many children to be put at risk. He didn’t do enough.” … (Judge) Sarmina said that Lynn had shielded, protected and aided “monsters in clerical garb” while he “refused to hear and refused to see” their young victims. (

    As I said, “tipping point”. Once a jury has convicted in spite of the God-invoked defense that is the Catholic Church, a mere football hero, University president, or politician already in the pipeline is much easier. The prosecution now knows how to build and prosecute a successful case against pedophile enablers.

  12. And to that Blouise I say Yay!!!! and hope they have no grounds for appeal. If this person were truly a ‘man of G-d’ he would have shame and a sense of responsibility. Sadly the church seems to have removed those when they turn these guys into priests.

  13. bettykath:

    “Did you know Corbett was on the PSU Board of Trustees?”


    Governor Corbett is an ex officio member of Penn State’s Board of Trustees as are the President of the University, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Environmental Resources. Governors rarely attend those meetings.

  14. Corbett’s problems go back further than his election to the governorship:

    “Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday (11/16/11) he knew that The Second Mile’s founder, Jerry Sandusky, was gone from the organization when the grant was approved earlier this year. Corbett, who said the funds were being withheld in light of the growing scandal, defended the decision to approve the grant while knowing about the allegations against Sandusky. (a $3 million state tax-payer funded grant)

    Corbett, a Republican, was the attorney general whose office in 2008 began the investigation into allegations of sexual contact between young boys and Sandusky, who founded the charity in 1977.” (

    There are serious questions being asked as to Corbett’s handling of the initial investigation when he was atty. general.

    Pipeline stuff

  15. (a $3 million state tax-payer funded grant) should be (a $3 million state tax-payer funded grant to The Second Mile charity)

  16. Mespo, ex officio or not, he attended at least one meeting by phone and participated when the Sandusky case was discussed

  17. bettykath,

    Although one would have to check the by-laws, I believe Corbett has full rights. In other words, he may make motions, may enter discussions, and may vote. Ex officio is only the means by which he joined the Board. “But I was just following orders” is going to work as well for him as it did for that creepy priest.

    His real problems go back to his days as atty. general and there are decision he made then that can not be unmade now or erased.

  18. Pa has a bad history with these guys. Gov Ridge knowingly nomiinated and allowed to serve as his sec’t of health a man who perjured himself in court.

  19. … and continue into his fundraising for his run for Governor … all fully documented. It’s probably the Second Mile charity affiliations that are his biggest worries.

  20. I did not know (or remember) that. and these guys are supposed to be role models, yeah right. (pardon my cynicism)

  21. Dredd, A lot of that “holy water” was sprinkled around Penn St in years past, now it seems there is a lot of “retroactive holy water” being sprinkled.
    This retroactive stuff just does not seem to have the equal High octane fool, as the stuff they used for years prior.

  22. The notable exception of encryption is absence today. Is that with absence of sense or absence of ability? One will have wonder with amusement as to the reasons why.

  23. Judge Baldwin was apparently the lone woman in this boy’s club horror story. It’s unfortunate she didn’t respond more as a mother than a board member.

  24. David Blauw 1, July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Dredd, A lot of that “holy water” was sprinkled around Penn St in years past, now it seems there is a lot of “retroactive holy water” being sprinkled.
    This retroactive stuff just does not seem to have the equal High octane fool, as the stuff they used for years prior.
    Yes, an incredible turn-around for them.

    I bet they have classes on “risk management” … unheeded it would seem.

  25. Now if they said that some guy named Willard had been humping on a juvenile in the shower then the case would be all over the news and world in five seconds. But no, we are in State Penn territory. Quite on the Set!

    Things have not changed a bit. Two days ago when the sanctions by the NCAA hit the fan there was a web article that a State Penn student volleyball player reported that she received a “text” from her “Coach” directing her to not talk about the subject matter. Yes. Keep quiet. Dont turn over any more stones that might affect Jerry or JoePa. Its called something in criminal prosecutions: Conspiracty of Silence.
    Thanks Coach. They will keep you on and you will get a nice fat pension when you are old, fat and retire.

    But the residents of Pennsylvania. Are you getting your ya ya’s off by having a football program at what purports to be an educational facility which has been deemed a “university”? The folks in China are laughing. Some of the folks in China who hold degrees and move to Philly to go to work for the hospital are laughing all the way to the bank. Penn State does not produce educated, well intentioned, skilled people in Math, Science, and Medicine. I did see Franco Harris talking to his Chinese doctor after his interview the other day.

  26. Bad behavior and coverup are the order of the day, and not just in the football arena.


    The Place: Hate Culture

    The main campus of Pennsylvania State University is located in State College, PA, a tiny exurb of the aptly named Centre County, the geographical center of Pennsylvania. When I first visited in 2007, I thought the university was nestled in a pleasant enough college town. A place of great natural beauty, State College sits deep in a valley just east of the Allegheny Mountains. It’s a town that seems lovely on the outside. It took some time for me to realize just how oppressive the environment could be.

    Central Pennsylvania is often denigrated as “Alabama in Pennsylvania,” largely because of its extremely conservative political landscape. Sure, the residents of State College usually vote for Democrats, as towns that revolve around large universities often do. But Central Pennsylvania as a region is hate group central. It houses the national headquarters of both the Aryan Nation and the Association of Independent Klansmen Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The latter is located in Lemont, just a 10-minute drive from Penn State. Plus, smaller militia and/or neo-Confederate groups are sprinkled throughout the area, and continue sprouting up. People in the region commonly note that State College has the “highest per capita hate group membership” in the United States.
    The University: Rape Culture

    Just as racism and, to some extent, homophobia, are omnipresent in State College in ways that seep into everyday life, the university culture itself is also particularly dismissive of sexual harassment, assault and rape allegations.

    For decades universities across the country have been plagued by what many have termed a “rape epidemic,” in which about one in five college women is raped. (A 2009 study suggests that the real incident rate actually far exceeds this ratio, because so many survivors fail to report.) As someone who has had more than a bit of experience on different college campuses — I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002, completed my first master’s degree at American University in 2006 and then spent a year in Montréal, Québec at McGill University — I can tell you that I saw plenty of rape culture at all three. At UNC, in fact, I once opted to leave a class when faced with an ongoing sexual harassment problem.

    I was, in other words, no stranger to these problems when I entered Penn State. But neither had I ever seen a university close ranks with such precision against students who decided to go public about assault or rape. At PSU, it soon became clear, you simply cannot take any abuse public without suffering severe consequences. Maybe that’s what makes Penn State culture so unusual.

    When I first arrived on campus in fall 2007, I was required, along with all new instructors, to take what I thought was a routine training seminar on sexual harassment. Looking back, I clearly should have seen what transpired as a red flag. At this particular seminar, we were taught that it’s perfectly fine for instructors to have sex with their own students. It was considered “unwise” to engage in these sexual relationships during the course of the semester, but it wasn’t exactly prohibited. We’d simply need to alert the proper administrative authorities, and make certain the sex didn’t affect our grading.

  27. Bettykath, that is very interesting. I have noted to a member of my family who is an alum that I have never seen people more proud, maybe more possessive of their college then Penn Staters. Maybe it is the closed ranks menatlity that filtered down to the students too.

  28. This story will just not go away. Expect the fallout to continue for some time to come. I am not sure how I would handle this if I were a Penn State alumni. Probably scrub my CV and wear a bag over my head.

    State Attorney General Linda Kelly is expected to announce today that former Penn State University President Graham Spanier has been charged in relation to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, according to sources close to the investigation.

  29. It needs to be stated that the issues at hand are the product of the administrative staff and BOT. The Students, educators, alumni and fans had no role in the entire sad affair. The NCAA is clearly as corrupt as the “adults” involved. Yet it is only the innocent that are being punished. Regardless of the crimes I do not see the punishment of innocent people being appropriate. It is also is clear that the only people/groups that are improved by this Heinous situation are those who stand to make money. This directly affects many other aspects of the educational system such as the hiding of crime on campus and the failure of due process of students involved. The Due Process Joe Paterno did not receive and do not forget the due process that never took place to people who have broken many laws running big football.

    There is a pervasive, dark element involved in college football because of the money. This reflects the deterioration of our society and our educational system. You should assume that what you see on TV is bunk.
    Placing the success of Paterno’s ,” Grand Experiment”, football team completely aside the accomplishments of the graduated football players, the superior graduation rate, the students’ commitment to improving society and the true record of the many instances of the Paterno’s positive impact of the football team as men stands for itself and is a superior record, well above society in general.

    Piers Morgan pressed Michael Moore to comment on gun violence after the shooting at Aurora that the quantity of guns was the problem. After trying to not answer he commented that less ammunition available would reduce the victims he went on to state that the problem really is the culture of hate that exists in society. We see examples of this culture in these posts. THE Pennsylvania State University is as victim of Sandusky as well.
    The way I see it Sandusky screwed boys and the BOT, the NCAA and the media have been screwing us since. People are always trying to tear down successful people.

    “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” – Mark Twain

    “The history of the race, and each individual’s experience, are thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal” Mark Twain

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