Five years after the Pennsylvania State University sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the president of the university at the time has been convicted Friday of child endangerment, according to NPR.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Graham Spanier was found guilty of the misdemeanor by a jury of five men and seven women.
Prosecutors alleged that Spanier failed to alert authorities about a 2001 report implicating Sandusky for showering with a young boy at Penn State. Spanier’s lawyers contended that the prosecution did not present any evidence of a cover-up attempt by Spanier, according to The New York Times.
Organizations seeking to stop child abuse hailed the conviction as a step forward in holding administrators accountable.
“We can no longer put institutional loyalty above protecting kids,” founder of the Center for Children’s Justice Cathleen Palm told The New York Times.
Those who disagreed worried that the conviction would condone false accusations against administrators.
"This is going to be like a shot fired around the world," Penn State trustee Bill Oldsey told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "If people of Graham's caliber will continue to aspire to lead the great universities of this country, then we have to make sure in this age of accountability that there are protections from being wrongly accused."
Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse and is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys over the course of 15 years, according to NPR. The university’s former football coach Joe Paterno and several other Penn State officials either resigned or were fired following the Sandusky scandal.
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