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Pennsylvania appeals court dismisses some charges related to Penn State child abuse scandal

[JURIST] The Pennsylvania Superior Court [official website] on Friday, in three separate opinions, overturned several charges for three Pennsylvania State University [official website] administrators accused of playing a role in covering up the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. The defendants argued that a former lawyer of the university, Cynthia Baldwin, should not have been allowed to testify against them in court because her testimony violated the attorney-client privilege. Cynthia Baldwin was Penn State University's chief counsel at the time of the Sandusky investigation and she had met with each of the defendants several times before the grand jury investigations. Baldwin argued that she represented the university administrators as an agent of the university, not in a personal capacity, and therefore was not bound by the attorney-client privilege. The superior court rejected Baldwin's argument, finding that she broke the attorney-client privilege. Resultantly, the court quashed [opinion, PDF] charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy for former Penn State President Graham Spanier. For Timothy Curley, the former Athletic Director, the court reversed [opinion, PDF] charges for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy were also overturned [opinion, PDF] for Gary Charles Schultz, formerly the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business for the university. The court did not overturn [The Inquirer report] other charges for the defendants including failure to report suspected child abuse and child endangerment.

The charges stemmed from the 2011 investigation into allegations into child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky [CNN timeline]. In November 2011, a grand jury indicted Jerry Sandusky on about 40 criminal counts for abusing minor boys from his charity organization, Second Mile, and the charges continued to pile up as more victims were discovered. Schultz and Curley were also indicted that same month for their roles in an alleged cover up of the abuse, and charges were filed against Spanier the following year. In June 2012, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.

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