HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Two ex-Penn State officials apologized to the sex abuse victims of Jerry Sandusky as they awaited sentencing Friday for failing to alert authorities to a 2001 allegation against the ex-assistant football coach, a decision that enabled the now-convicted serial predator to continue molesting boys.
Former university athletic director Tim Curley, 63, former vice president Gary Schultz, 67, and ex-president Graham Spanier, 68, were all convicted of child endangerment in the case.
Curley and Schultz told the judge they were sorry they didn't do more. Spanier was to address the court later, before all three were to be sentenced (see story).
"I am very remorseful I did not comprehend the severity of the situation. I sincerely apologize to the victims and to all who were impacted because of my mistake," Curley said. "I sincerely apologize for not having done more."
Schultz said, "It really sickens me to think I might have played a part in children being hurt. I'm sorry that I didn't do more, and I apologize to the victims."
Prosecutors slammed all three men, saying they cared more about themselves than about protecting children.
They reserved their harshest words for Spanier.
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"He was a complete and utter failure as a leader when it mattered most," said Laura Ditka, a state prosecutor.
She said he kept Penn State trustees in the dark about the Sandusky complaint and "he allowed children to be harmed."
The three men were accused of hushing up a 2001 allegation about Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a football team shower to protect the university's reputation.
As a result, prosecutors said, the retired coach went on to victimize four more boys.
All three men have denied they were told the encounter in the shower was sexual in nature.
Prosecutors dropped more serious charges against Curley and Schultz as a result of their pleas, and agreed they would not recommend a sentence for them. But in documents filed on the eve of the sentencing, they assailed the two men over their testimony at Spanier's trial.
They suggested that Curley was purposely forgetful, and that it defied common sense that Schultz seemed unwilling to acknowledge the sexual nature of the allegation about Sandusky.
Spanier's trial revolved around testimony by an ex-graduate coaching assistant, Mike McQueary, who said he reported seeing Sandusky molesting a boy in 2001.
Sandusky was not arrested until 2011, after an anonymous email to a county prosecutor led investigators to approach McQueary. Sandusky was found guilty the next year of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years while he appeals his conviction. At least four victims at Sandusky's trial said they were molested after 2001.
The scandal led to the firing of beloved football coach Joe Paterno shortly after Sandusky's arrest, and he died of cancer two months later at the age of 85.
The Hall of Fame coach was never charged with a crime, but a report commissioned by the university concluded he was part of an effort to keep a lid on the allegations against Sandusky for fear of bad publicity.
Penn State's football program suffered heavy sanctions from the NCAA, and the university has paid out nearly a quarter-billion dollars in fines, court verdicts, settlements and other costs.
McQueary testified about how he went to Paterno a day after the shower encounter to discuss what he had seen. Paterno notified Curley and Schultz, and McQueary met with both of them about a week later. In his 2011 grand jury testimony, Paterno said he was told by McQueary the encounter involved "fondling" and was of "a sexual nature," but wasn't sure what the act was.
The prosecution's key evidence included notes and email exchanges in which Curley, Schultz and Spanier debated what to do after McQueary's report.
Ultimately, they agreed not to contact child welfare authorities. That decision formed the heart of the case against the administrators.