Prosecutor: Not reporting Jerry Sandusky let evil 'run wild'

Published: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 12:15 AM
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 12:13 AM


            Former Penn State president Graham Spanier walks to the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, March 20, 2017. Spanier faces charges that he failed to report suspected child sex abuse in the last remaining criminal case in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The failure of Penn State's former president to report child molestation accusations against Jerry Sandusky allowed evil "to run wild," prosecutors said Tuesday at the start of Graham Spanier's trial. A defense attorney accused prosecutors of trying to "criminalize a judgment call."

Opening statements got underway in the long-delayed criminal trial against Spanier, who faces felony charges of child endangerment and conspiracy for how he handled a 2001 report that the former assistant football coach had abused a boy in a team shower.

Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving decades in prison.

Two former Penn State officials took plea deals in the case last week — former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley. They are expected to testify along with a victim of Sandusky.

Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte told jurors that Spanier and others agreed not to report Sandusky and, as a result, "evil in the form of Jerry Sandusky was allowed to run wild."

Defense attorney Sam Silver disputed any notion that his client and others didn't respond to the 2001 complaint about Sandusky.

"They made a decision they believed was appropriate under the circumstances," he said, accusing prosecutors of trying to "criminalize a judgment call."

Schulte told the jury of seven women and five men about a May 1998 incident in which a mother reported Sandusky showering with her son, and said Schultz informed Spanier "because the president of the university should be apprised of something like that."

After a month the investigation by police and child welfare agencies ended with no charges being filed.

After graduate assistant Mike McQueary's complained about Sandusky showering with a boy in a team facility, Spanier, Schultz and Curley decided to talk to Sandusky and bar him from bringing children onto campus rather than report him to child-welfare authorities, Schulte said. They told him if he didn't get help they would report him, he said.

"Gary Schultz is going to tell you that he is very regretful of the decision to not be firmer in insisting" they report the matter to state child-welfare authorities, Schulte said.

McQueary told jurors Tuesday he was sure he told Curley and Schultz that what he saw was sexual in nature: "I told them that I saw Jerry molesting a boy."

Wendell Courtney, then Penn State's general counsel, said he told Schultz to report it the state child-welfare authorities, even though Schultz "absolutely" did not describe it as a sexual attack.

"It was the smart and prudent and appropriate thing to do," Courtney testified.

The former director of The Second Mile, a charity Sandusky founded and where he met most of his victims, said Curley told him that an investigation into the incident McQueary witnessed determined nothing inappropriate had occurred.

Psychologist Jack Raykovitz, who headed the agency for at-risk youth, said he advised Sandusky to wear swim trunks if he showered with children in the future. He also informed several high-ranking board members of The Second Mile about the matter.

The Second Mile did not take steps to keep Sandusky away from children until 2008, when it was told Sandusky was the target of an investigation.

Spanier, 68, was forced out shortly after Sandusky was charged with child molestation in 2011.

Schultz and Curley had faced the same charges as Spanier before they pleaded guilty last week to a single misdemeanor count of child endangerment. They await sentencing.

Silver took issue with the conspiracy charge, saying Penn State officials told a few other people about the complaint and reported Sandusky to The Second Mile.

"That's a heck of a way to pull off a conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children, to go off and tell all these people," he said.

Spanier, who denies any wrongdoing, has said Curley and Schultz characterized the 2001 incident in the shower as horseplay and not any form of child abuse.

IHOP waiter says he was offered nursing job after helping feed disabled customer

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 3:51 PM

IHOP restaurant sign in Illinois
Scott Olson/Getty Images

A waiter is getting a lot of attention for feeding a disabled customer at an IHOP restaurant.

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For more than a decade, Joe Thomas, 43, has been working at an IHOP restaurant in Springfield, Illinois.

On Saturday, a couple of his regulars stopped in for breakfast. Thomas knows the woman has trouble eating because of a medical issue.

“I always see him stop eating to feed her, and I was like, ‘Heck, if I’m not doing anything, why don’t I go feed her so he can eat and everyone can be happy?’” Thomas told WICS.

He told Buzzfeed News that the woman, identified only as Ma, has Huntington's disease, which makes it difficult for her to use utensils.

“I remember when she was able to walk and feed herself more than she can now,” Thomas told Buzzfeed, noting that he had seen Ma’s condition worsen over the last seven years. “We’ve become good friends, and I’ve grown attached to her. I’m just here to help.”

According to Buzzfeed, Thomas helping Ma eat has become “a standard weekend tradition,” and she usually always orders applesauce, fruit and eggs.

This past weekend, a woman sitting at another table spotted the touching moment and snapped a photo of Thomas’ act of kindness.

She shared the photo with IHOP on Facebook, where it quickly went viral, getting more than 4,500 shares.

Today while visiting your Springfield, IL location on Dirksen I witnessed a very touching moment involving one of your...

Posted by Keshia Dotson on Saturday, March 25, 2017

The woman who posted the photo said her faith in humanity had been restored that day.

Thomas spent some time reading the comments from strangers around the world, who commended him on his kindness.

“It really felt good for somebody to actually see another person is doing something and take notice,” Thomas said. “It felt good, but at the same time I was like I really don’t care for the recognition too much because it’s just something that should automatically be done regardless.”

Thomas told WICS that since the photo was shared, he has received a job opportunity to become a nurse. It’s unclear if he was offered a caregiver position or if he was encouraged to pursue the training and certification needed for medical positions. 

Read more at WICS and Buzzfeed News.

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.

Human waste found in Coca-Cola cans in Northern Ireland

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 10:37 PM

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Coca-Cola factory in Northern Ireland halted production last week after human waste was discovered in its soda cans, The Guardian reported. 

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Now police are investigating how this could have happened at the Hellenic Bottling Company. 

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The company said none of the contaminated products made it onto store shelves and they impounded the contaminated cans, according to The Guardian. They noticed the problem when machines at the plant became clogged.

“The problem was identified immediately through our robust quality procedures,” Coca-Cola said in a statement. 

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“This is an isolated incident and does not affect any products currently on sale.”

Read more at The Guardian

Ivanka Trump will take official White House role as the assistant to the president

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 9:52 PM

Ivanka Trump (Photo by  Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

After ethics questions were raised about the nature of her role in the White House, Ivanka Trump will officially become an employee of the federal government and will work as the “assistant to the president” for no pay.

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Last week, reports came out suggesting the first daughter would be getting a White House office, security clearance and government-issued phone as an informal adviser without an official job title. Concerns over the unidentified description of her role and potential conflicts of interest prompted Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) to send a letter to the Office of Government Ethics.

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“Ms. Trump’s increasing, albeit unspecified, White House role, her potential conflicts of interest, and her commitment to voluntarily comply with relevant ethics and conflict of interest laws have resulted in substantial confusion,” the letter read.

In response, Ivanka Trump provided a statement obtained by The New York Times, in which she addresses the confusion and announced her new position.

“I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees,” she said. “Throughout this process I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role.”

The White House also addressed the news, with a spokeswoman for President Trump saying, “We are pleased that Ivanka Trump has chosen to take this step in her unprecedented role as first daughter and in support of the president. Ivanka’s service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.”

Video captures terrifying Washington state home invasion robbery

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 9:24 PM

(KIRO7.com)

The Sheriff's office in Snohomish County, Washington, is asking for the public's help to identify two men who robbed an Everett woman on Wednesday morning in her own home.

According to police, the men broke into the home by kicking in the doors.

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Once inside, the two confronted the victim and ripped off her jewelry.

Anyone with information is asked to call at 425-388-5258.