A jury in Harrisburg, Pa., has convicted the former president of Penn State University of child endangerment for his handling of a sex abuse complaint involving assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The New York Times reports that in a split verdict, Graham Spanier was acquitted of a charge of conspiracy and a second endangerment count.
The conviction carries a punishment of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Prosecutors would not say if they intend to seek jail time for Spanier.
Sandusky, was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 young boys, and he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, and the fallout from the scandal led to charges against Spanier as well as the resignation of football coach Joe Paterno.
Spanier was among the several Penn State administrators harshly criticized in a 2012 report by investigators who reviewed the university’s actions surrounding the accusations against Sandusky.
The former university president was charged along with two other former administrators. the athletic director, Tim Curley, and a vice president, Gary Schultz. Those two agreed to plead guilty and testified for the prosecution.
Following the verdict, Penn State issued a statement that read in part: "Penn State has extraordinary expectations of our leaders, who must set and maintain the example for reporting, ethics and compliance that reflect best practices. In the view of the jury, with respect to Spanier, and by their own admission, as to Curley and Schultz, these former leaders fell short. And while we cannot undo the past, we have re-dedicated ourselves and our University to act always with the highest integrity, in affirming the shared values of our community."
In 2013, Penn State agreed to pay $59.7 million to 26 sexual abuse victims in exchange for an end to their claims against the university.
Spanier has long maintained that he was unaware of the seriousness of the accusations against Sandusky. Prosecutors contended that Spanier was aware of a 2001 report that Sandusky had showered with a young boy at the university, but that they failed to tell the authorities, acting instead to keep the matter quiet.
That choice, prosecutors argued, enabled Sandusky to keep abusing boys for years.