Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET: Pennsylvania state prosecutors, citing what they called "a conspiracy of silence," on Thursday charged Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University, with perjury, obstruction of justice and endangering the welfare of children abused by the school's former defensive coordinator, convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.
The prosecutors also brought new felony charges against two former top Penn State officials -- Tim Curley, the ex-athletic director, and Gary Schultz, an ex-Penn State vice president who oversaw the campus police.
Both men had been previously charged in the case and they, along with Spanier, have publicly insisted on their innocence.
"This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard to the suffering of children," Kelly said.
“Graham Spanier has commited no crime and looks forward to the opportunity to clear his good name and well earned national reputation for integrity,” Spanier’s lawyers said in a statement. “This presentment is a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man.
And if these charges ever come to trial, we will prove it.”
They also blamed the charges against their client on Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, saying that Kelly – whom he appointed – had brought the case against Spanier to divert attention from the fact that when Corbett was attorney general, he had failed to bring criminal charges against Sandusky in 2009 – an issue that Democrats have criticized him for. Kelly on Thursday adamantly denied that politics played any role in the case.
The new charges come nearly one year after Sandusky was arrested and charged with repeatedly abusing young boys dating back to 1998, setting off one of the biggest scandals in the history of college sports. Sandusky, the longtime deputy to the school's late legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse last June and was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in state prison.