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Penn State hearing: Did officials cover up Jerry Sandusky sex crimes?

A preliminary hearing for three former Penn State officials begins Monday. It will determine whether to move forward with a trial on charges that the men conspired to cover up abuse by Jerry Sandusky.

By Chelsea B. SheasleyCorrespondent / July 29, 2013

Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary enters the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz, and Timothy Curley go before a judge to determine whether the three must face trial on charges that they covered up an allegation that Jerry Sandusky was sexually preying on boys.

Bradley C.Bower/AP

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Did top officials at Pennsylvania State University cover up early reports of child sexual assault by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, leaving him free to molest other boys over the next decade?

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Chelsea Sheasley is the Monitor's Asia Editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine.

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That’s the question at issue when a Pennsylvania judge begins a preliminary hearing Monday to determine whether former university president Graham Spanier, former senior vice president of business Gary Schultz, and former athletic director Tim Curley should go to trial over perjury and criminal conspiracy charges. 

The three men each face five felony counts for perjury, endangering the welfare of children, and criminal conspiracy related to their “alleged failure to report abuse by Mr. Sandusky and their actions during the investigation,” according to The Wall Street Journal. All three have maintained their innocence.

Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 boys over more than a decade. He is currently serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in state prison.

The charges against the former Penn State officials stem from a November 2012 grand jury report that accused the men of failing to notify authorities after a graduate assistant in 2001 said he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a locker room shower. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, and Curley are accused of failing to report the incident to authorities and creating a “conspiracy of silence” that permitted Sandusky to continue his behavior, according to prosecutors.

The grand jury report and an independent investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh last year said that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported witnessing sexual assault by Sandusky in 2001 to late head football coach Joe Paterno. Mr. Paterno reported the incident to Curley and Schultz, who then told former university president Spanier, according to the two reports.

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