As we told you yesterday, former Penn State president Graham Spanier launched a media offensive that began with a press conference during which his lawyers excoriated the Freeh report and its findings. Later, the New Yorker published a Q&A with Spanier, and Josh Elliot did an interview with Spanier that aired last night on ABC. Spanier told Elliot it was "inconceivable" that he would not have acted had he known about sexual abuse, especially since he's a licensed family therapist and a victim of child abuse himself.
Spanier may indeed be on solid ground when he says he may not have been aware that Sandusky was seen doing anything sexual or abusive by Mike McQueary in February 2001. Spanier did not speak to Joe Paterno or to McQueary directly about what McQueary saw; his understanding of the incident was the result of what he was told by on-leave athletic director Tim Curley and former senior vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz, both of whom are awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failure to report abuse.
This is from Spanier's interview with the New Yorker, which you can read in its entirety here:
Spanier's memory of the 2001 incident:
... After a meeting, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz came to me with a heads-up.... I don't know if they said it was from Joe Paterno or if it was obvious that it came from Joe Paterno. They said we received a report that a member of the athletic department staff, after a workout in one of our athletic facilities, saw Jerry Sandusky in the locker room with one of his kids, meaning one of his Second Mile kids. And it was reported that they were horsing around in the shower. Now they either used the word "horsing around" or "horseplay." And the staff member wasn't sure what he saw, because it was indirect and around a corner.
And I remember asking two questions. "Are you sure that's how it was described to you, as ‘horsing around'?" And the answer was yes from both Gary and Tim. And, "Are you sure that's all that was said to you?" And the answer was yes. I remember, for a moment, sort of figuratively scratching our heads and thinking about what's an appropriate way to follow up on "horsing around." I had never gotten a report like that before.
We agreed in that meeting ... that we needed to do two things ... Tim Curley needs to talk with Jerry Sandusky and explain to him that this is unacceptable to us. We didn't know what [Sandusky] would say; I didn't know him, I'm not sure if Gary Schultz knew him. Tim probably knew him well. But he needed to understand that it didn't feel right to us, it wouldn't look right to people, it's not appropriate. He was no longer an employee at the university; he'd been retired for three years. So we didn't have any hold over him in that way. But he was with the Second Mile, and we thought, we should tell the president of the Second Mile that we're going to give Jerry this directive, and we'd like their support for that, and we don't want any Second Mile kids being brought into the athletic shower facilities.
Specifically, Spanier's e-mail of February 27, 2001, to Curley and Schultz said: "This approach is acceptable to me…. 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. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed."
Spanier has received a great deal of criticism for that e-mail, because it seems to put being "humane" to Sandusky ahead of any concern for his victim.
What I meant by "humane" was I thought it was very humane of Tim to want to go the extra mile by meeting with Jerry and saying, "Jerry, I hope you understand that we don't want this to happen, and we're going to tell this to Second Mile, and if you want to accompany me to that meeting with Second Mile you may come with me. " I thought that's a very humane way to follow up on something like that....
I think what many people wanted to read into it was that it was humane for us not to turn him in for being a known child predator. But I never, ever heard anything about child abuse or sexual abuse or my antennae raised up enough to even suspect that. So I know that's been taken out of context, and I suspect that whoever leaked those e-mails wanted them to be taken out of context.... At that Sunday meeting, I don't recall that anything in particular was agreed to, only Tim and Gary apparently had been conferring along the way about what to do and what the process was, and I was brought into it at the end...
Spanier says that he didn't yet know the investigation was about child abuse:
No, oh no. I had no idea. It surprised me, because I was thinking, "Well, why would they be looking at something in the shower?" I had no idea, and [Baldwin] didn't say anything to me.
I either heard or surmised it had something to do with that  incident, but I didn't know the magnitude of it.5 In fact, until I read the grand jury presentment very quickly on Saturday, November 5th, , I think it would have been, I had no idea that it was anything about more than that one shower. In that period from January, February, March, she [Baldwin] only gave me a report that these folks are going to the grand jury. She told me somewhere along the way that they were interviewing staff in the football program, and she would be there for all the interviews. But she never told me what was asked about in the interviews, never told me what came up with Curley and Gary Schultz in their testimony. Paterno had his own attorney in the grand jury, so she wasn't there for that. I was very much in the dark about it. And I had reiterated to her, if they ever want to talk to me, I'd be very happy to talk to them.... At some point she came to me and said, "They would like to talk to you."
So I met with them in State College. They asked me some questions about that incident, and I told them just what I told you. And they said, "Do you know anything about an incident in 1998?" And at the time I said, "No I don't recall knowing anything about that." They were pretty straightforward questions, and that was that. And I didn't really think much about it.
Again, of course, Paterno testified that he understood what McQueary told him was of "a sexual nature." Curley testified that McQueary communicated what he saw was "inappropriate." Schultz, based on his conversation with Paterno, characterized what McQueary saw as "disturbing" and "inappropriate." And in a memo obtained by the Freeh Group dated Feb. 12, 2001, and labeled "confidential," Schultz wrote the following:
• Talked with TMC [Curley]
• Reviewed 98 history
• Agreed TMC will discuss with JVP [Paterno] and advise we think TMC should meet with JS [Sandusky] on Friday
• Unless he confesses to having a problem, TMC will indicate we need to have DPW review the matter as an independent agency concerned with child welfare
• TMC will keep me posted.
But if these men understood what Sandusky did to be "horseplay" on the order of "throwing water" or "snapping towels," as Spanier says to Elliot, why did they think Sandusky had a problem of any kind? Why was there an email chain that included a comment by Curley that says "we want to assist the individual to get professional help"? There certainly seemed to be some awareness that they were dealing with someone who did something that wasn't innocent. Assuming Spanier is telling the truth, why wasn't that communicated to him by Curley or Schultz? These questions, obviously, will get sorted out at Curley's and Schultz's trial.
Here is the broadcast of Spanier's interview with Elliot: