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Former PSU President Wants Charges Dropped

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier wants a judge to dismiss the charges against him.

Spanier is charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and endangering the welfare of children in connection with the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

His lawyers claim prosecutors improperly relied on testimony of a former university counsel to make their case against him.

Spanier’s lawyers say he believed Cynthia Baldwin was representing him, therefore her testimony would violate attorney-client privilege.

Meantime, the Pennsylvania task force on child protection, established in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, says “sweeping” changes are needed to protect the state’s children.

The task force announced its recommendations Tuesday.

“We tried to do the very best we could to improve a system that is woefully failing in a number of ways today,” Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said.

With that, the eleven member Pennsylvania task force on child protection meeting in Harrisburg recommended big changes to child protective services laws.

It would change the definition of child abuse – lowering the threshold for substantiating abuse — for example, eliminating the requirement that the child experience severe pain.

It would expand the definition of perpetrator beyond parents and in-house relatives to include employees or volunteers at camps or athletic programs

And it would expand the list of those who are mandated to report abuse to include college administrators and coaches.

Their year-long study was prompted in part by the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal which resulted in his conviction that put him away basically for the rest of his life.

Local child advocates think the recommendations are steps in the right direction.

Joan Mills is the manager of A Child’s Place at Mercy, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy health system.

“I think they are steps in the right direction,” Mills said. “I think the merger of the definition of child abuse between the Pennsylvania crimes code and the child protective service law would be extremely beneficial. It’s very confusing in this commonwealth to have child abuse defined two separate ways.”

The recommendations are non-binding but the legislature is expected to look at these new ideas when they reconvene in January.

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