Former Penn State president: I was abused as kid, wouldn't ignore Sandusky allegations
Graham Spanier was fired from his position as president of Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
July 24th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Former Penn State president: I was abused as kid, wouldn't ignore Sandusky allegations

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier said he would never have ignored accusations of child sex abuse on campus because, among other things, he "personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child," according to a letter he sent to the school's board of trustees.

"It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth... would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children," Spanier said in the letter - which was dated Sunday and obtained by CNN Tuesday.

While Spanier has not been criminally charged in the case, an investigation by ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh concluded that he helped university officials conceal allegations of sexual abuse against the former assistant football coach.

Spanier disputes these findings in his letter, saying "at no time during my presidency did anyone ever report to me that Jerry Sandusky was observed abusing a child or youth or engaged in a sexual act with a child or youth."

Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.

More on the Penn State scandal:

Paterno loyalists: Sanctions excessive

Ex-Penn State pres: I was abused

History books, Paterno's legacy altered?

Penalties won't be school's final payout

Opinion: Will players stick around?

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Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State
soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. Pro Death

    You can be sure he was "coached" on that letter

    July 24, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Nate

    Anyone that would be mean to a child is a sad sad person. We hope everything will work out ok.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. tet1953

    If you want to be believed you have to name names.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. Trinity

    I wondered how long it would take one of these scoundrels to play the abuse card.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Chadtastic


      July 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chet

      Spanier has been open about being abused for decades. Just because you are now just learning about it, does not mean he is just now disclosing it. He is just referencing something that is common knowledge to anyone that knew his name more than 6 mos. ago.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LL

    Uh, apparently he doesn't know about some of the common long term affects of childhood abuse. If he was in fact abused as a child, he's much MORE likely to have covered for Sandusky. This just makes him look guilty, (and he looked guilty already)

    July 24, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • ram

      My thoughts exactly, FLDoc. It's common for people who were abused to not speak up when their kids/someone else is abused. It doesn't make logical sense unless you know how people are changed when subjected to abuse, and the worse the abuse the more a person is changed. I have known several mothers who were abused as children who saw or felt their own child was being abused, but felt it wasn't as bad and what happened to them or felt they couldn't speak up, so they just didn't. It wasn't that they didn't love their kids, but that they either felt the need to minimize what was happening or froze feeling trapped again.

      That's why it's so important for victims/survivors to get treatment so they don't keep the cycle of abuse going through generations. This goes for any type of abuse, and when I read what he said I thought, "Maybe you would have spoken out and maybe you wouldn't." This doesn't make him some amazing reporter of abuse...some do, and some don't.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lu Foremost

    This man is a charlatan.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. alligator face

    or this guy could be of the mindset that " i too was abused as a kid and i still survived and am doing ok so i'll just keep quiet and hope/let this incident or information just go by and fade into the past, it would be much easier and less complicated this way."..............until now when everything and everybody is exposed.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Curious

    Interesting. Not that Freeh would have any reason to be bias in his report and contradict the state AG's extensive investigation, but if this is in fact true, would it not seriously undermine the credibility of the report?

    July 24, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ram

      No. See my post above. It happens more often than one might think. It's common, actually. Some can speak up and some can't.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    OK, if he did not ignore them then he obviously deferred to Paterno who ignored them. Sandusky is not in jail for jaywalking.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Evangenital

    I was abused and I loved it.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |

    i just love how these people that r college football fans refuse to believe anything that comes out of anyones mouth from this school. i dont believe him but i am looking at it objectively not calling for and end to everything because i am an illinois fan.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • ram

      He may have been happens often.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. shannon g

    It's a little to late for that announcement.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Chet

      He announced that he was abused decades ago and has openly talked about it on numerous occasions. You might now just be learning of it, but it was common knowledge to anyone that knew his name 6 mos. ago

      July 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eagle Eye

    Who cares if you were abused, you knew waht was going and did nothing to stop it. For one who was abused you should've fired Sandusky and Paterno, but you didn't because of all the money Penn State was making. So if there's blame to go around you should be blamed. Don't all of a sudden come out and say you were abuse and think people are going to feel sorry for, I don't. You were part of the "Ol Boys Club" and looked the other way. What about all the boys Sandusky abuse I don't hear you telling the families that you're sorry for what Sandusky did. Your just as dirty as the rest of them. Nobody should feel sorry for you.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. Happy Nemo

    He was actually saying "Big deal! Look at me! Get over it, will ya?!"

    July 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. FLDoc

    Au contraire. Unless this man has done years of extensive work dealing with his "massive" abuse ( including confronting his main perpetrators), it is highly likely that he would have ignored evidence of abuse under his own nose. If Spanier's acknowledgment of his abuse is something that only came to light after this scandal broke, this will likely work to his detriment at trial.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel B.

      Wow! You speak with such total conviction and authority. You must be Sigmund Freud himself.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Rfh

      I have a close relative who worked with Spanier years ago and when the story first broke said she knew he was abused as a kid so his involvement in this surprised her. My point is he obviously told others of this abuse a long time ago, well before even 1998. This will at least come out somewhere since there is no way he did not tell someone besides my relative.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Very, very well stated.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • justblegit

      "The only downside for us is if message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it, but that can be assessed down the road," the email said, according to CNN. Enough said....

      July 24, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • ram

      Daniel, he is right. You don't have to be Freud to have experienced, and/or studied and learned about these things.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
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