Curley, Schultz Headed to Court

December 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment

Several of us on the magazine staff just spent most of our Friday editing page proofs for the January-February issue while keeping a constant eye on Twitter.

Twitter was pretty much the only way to follow, in real time, today’s preliminary hearing for Tim Curley ’76, ’78g and Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g, who face charges of perjury and failure-to-report in connection with the child-sex-abuse case against former Nittany Lion defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g.

Farrell: Give me an accurate height of the boy. McQueary: I would need a measuring tape for that, sir.  (@annaorso)

A district magisterial judge in Harrisburg listened to 4-1/2 hours’ worth of testimony today, then ruled that there’s enough evidence to send both Curley (the Penn State athletic director, currently on administrative leave) and Schultz (now-retired VP for finance and administration) to trial on the charges.

Many of the reporters who attended the hearing in the Dauphin County Courthouse were tweeting constantly from the proceedings, and the result was a virtual play-by-play of the testimony. Through their tweets—easily numbering in the hundreds—we essentially watched as a series of five witnesses took the stand.

Called Joe at 730 or 8 a.m. Joe thought he was calling about a coaching job. “Coach, it’s much more serious than that.”  (@minknate)

The key witness, assistant football coach (also on administrative leave) Mike McQueary ’97, testified for more than two hours—first about an incident he said he saw in the shower in Lasch Building in 2002, allegedly involving Sandusky and a boy of about 10 to 12 years old, and then about his subsequent conversations with Joe Paterno, Curley, and Schultz about the incident. Also testifying were McQueary’s father, John; former Penn State police chief Tom Harmon; a court reporter who was at a key grand jury session last January; and an agent from the state attorney general’s office. That was all before lunch.

In the afternoon, a court official read out loud the complete transcript of grand-jury testimony given last Jan. 12 by Curley, Schultz, and Paterno. The point, presumably, was for the prosecution to show how Curley and Schultz’ testimony back then does or doesn’t square with what McQueary said. Much of the testimony, both last January and today, centered on just how explicit McQueary was in describing what he saw in the shower: Did he tell Paterno, Curley, and Schultz in graphic detail? Or did he just characterize generally the activity he observed between Sandusky and the boy?

Paterno said he was shocked and saddened. Slumped back in chair. “I’m sorry you had to see that. That’s terrible.”  (@andrewmcgill)

The tweets ran the gamut. There were updates on the courtroom activity: “Defense attorney Roberto is now cross-examining McQueary.” There was nearly verbatim testimony: “I did receive a phone call from Mike. My wife answered the phone and handed it to me. She said ‘John it’s Mike, something’s wrong.'” There were occasional characterizations of the defendants: “Curley watches proceedings intently. Schultz looks sad, dejected, stares into space.” And there were intermittent bits of humor: “Note to anyone on the #PSU beat or who will be in the next few years, bring a seat cushion to these court things.”

Among the best Twitter feeds for following the hearing were those of Penn State sophomore and Collegian reporter Anna Orso (@annaorso); Andrew McGill ’10 (@andrewmcgill) of the Allentown Morning Call; Nate Mink (@minknate) of StateCollege.com; the students at OnwardState.com (@OnwardState); Nate Bauer ’05 (@NateBauerBWI) of Blue White Illustrated; and undergraduate Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4), who writes for USA Today, the Reading Eagle, and others. We profiled Snyder on the blog a while back, by the way—she has landed some pretty good journalism gigs in her young career.

Prosecution closing argument done. Judge speaking.  (@NateBauerBWI)

If you’d like to read some of the coverage of today’s hearing, senior editor Lori Shontz rounded up a few of the better articles that have been filed so far:

This one from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is comprehensive and well done, although Lori points out that the judge is not from Centre County as the story’s lead says.

This one from USA Today (co-authored by Audrey Snyder). Incidentally, I can’t imagine that it’s easy to tweet and take notes for a story at the same time.

This one from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

—And this one from the AP via the York Daily Record.

Tina Hay, editor

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