Judges overturns conviction of ex-PSU president

One day before former Penn State University president Graham Spanier was scheduled to begin serving a two-month prison sentence, a judge overturned his conviction on a child-endangerment charge Tuesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick issued the ruling in Scranton, Pa. She found that prosecutors and Judge John Boccabella improperly followed a portion of a revised Pennsylvania child-endangerment statute that was changed in 2007 when trying Spanier, who was charged with a crime that allegedly occurred in 2001.

The state accused Spanier of failing to take action after learning of alleged sexual assault by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on children.

According to the judge’s ruling, “(The) conviction in this matter was based on a criminal statute that did not go into effect until six years after the conduct in question, and is therefore in violation of Spanier’s federal constitutional rights.”

Mehalchick gave the state three months to retry the case, but the attorney general’s office did not immediately announce its planned course of action.

Spanier, 70, left his job under fire in 2011 in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.

Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing multiple boys, and he is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison.