Richard Black, a 78-year-old truck driver who served as the jury foreman during former Penn State president Graham Spanier’s child endangerment trial, says that he regrets convicting Spanier and wishes he had held out for a hung jury.
Black conveyed his regrets to PennLive, stating that he did not believe the prosecution had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Spanier was aware that former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was abusing children while he worked for the school. From PennLive:
“In my opinion, I don’t think Graham Spanier knew (this was reported as a sexual assault)“ Black said. “They (former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz) did not make him understand how serious a situation this might be.”
Black, 78, said after reflection he believes the jury lost sight of that question in their desire to punish Spanier for the eventual harm to other children caused by what all on the panel agreed was an effort to protect Penn State’s brand.
Spanier was convicted of one count of child endangerment, and is scheduled to be sentenced later this spring. During the trial, prosecutors revealed an email chain in which former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz—both of whom pleaded guilty to similar charges before the trial started—informed Spanier of a 2001 incident in which former Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary had witnessed Sandusky abusing a child in the shower. The emails show the three men ultimately deciding not to report the incident to police, with Spanier concluding, “The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon. We then become vulnerable for not having reported it.”
Black told PennLive that he had “tears in his eyes” in the days following the trial. “I personally believe that I had made a mistake; but it was an honest mistake,” he added.