Three former Penn State University officials -- including ex-President Graham Spanier -- have been charged with conspiring to cover up years of sexual abuse against children by former football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Spanier, along with former Athletic Director Tim Curley and ex-Vice President Gary Schultz, each face the same eight counts related to the Sandusky scandal, including perjury, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly announced Thursday.
Curley and Schultz are scheduled for a preliminary arraignment at Magisterial District Judge William C. Wenner's office at 2 p.m. on Friday, and Spanier's preliminary arraignment is slated for next Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the same judge's office, according to a Pennsylvania courts spokesman Jim Koval. Each of the three men is expected to attend his arraignment, said Koval.
This is the first time Spanier has been charged in the wake of the scandal, which started unfolding publicly a year ago. Curley and Schultz previously had been charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse.
The three men "essentially turned a blind eye to serial predatory acts" by Sandusky, Kelly told a news conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
"This was not a mistake by these men. It was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard for the children who were Sandusky's victims in this case," she said.
Spanier's attorneys said "there is no factual basis to support these charges" and accused Kelly of acting as a pawn for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who they said "has made no secret of his personal hostility toward Dr. Spanier."
"These charges are the work of a vindictive and politically motivated governor working through an unelected attorney general, Linda Kelly, whom he appointed to do his bidding and who will be a lame duck five days from now," according to a statement from the attorneys.
They also accused Kelly and her staff of "steadfastly" refusing to meet with Spanier or his legal representatives "despite repeated attempts to do so."
Gov. Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley responded, "Graham Spanier's statement is the ranting of a man who has just been indicted for covering up for a convicted pedophile. His arrogance reveals a man who has just found out that he is not above the law after all."
As a result of the charges, Penn State said Spanier -- who was removed as president in November 2011 -- will be placed on immediate leave. He had continued to serve as a tenured professor, although he was on a sabbatical.
Penn State said it recently informed Curley that his fixed-term contract will not be renewed when it expires in June. Schultz had retired after he was initially charged last year.
The university refused to comment on the charges "out of respect for the legal process."
Curley's attorney Caroline Roberto said prosecutors didn't give her team any advance notice of the new charges.
"To be clear, Tim Curley is innocent of all charges," Roberto said in a statement. "We are carefully reviewing the presentment and will reserve a more comprehensive comment for a later time."
Roberto filed a pre-trial motion Wednesday, asking to dismiss or suppress Curley's grand jury testimony. The motion alleges a conflict of interest because the woman Curley believed was representing him at the time, was actually representing Penn State University.
CNN has reached out to Schultz's attorney Thomas Farrell, who previously said Schultz is innocent of the initial charges and he would fight to clear Schultz's name.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sex abuse, ranging from corruption of minors to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, which were laid out in graphic testimony by his accusers over the course of the less-than-two-week trial. Last month, he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, meaning he'll likely die behind bars.
Speaking Thursday, Kelly cited as evidence a series of e-mails among Spanier, Schultz, and Curley from February 2001, referring, somewhat in code, to the infamous incident in which assistant coach Mike McQueary walked in on Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in a university shower room.
CNN first reported in June about the allegedly incriminating e-mails.
In July, in a 267-page report commissioned by the university, former FBI Director Louis Freeh blamed the three men and legendary former head football coach Joe Paterno for having "never demonstrated ... any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest," while the board of trustees failed to perform its oversight duties.
Paterno died on January 22.
"I'm not going to speculate or comment on Mr. Paterno's relationship to this investigation," Kelly said Thursday. "He's deceased, and that's the end of it."
In an August interview published in the New Yorker magazine, Spanier ripped the Freeh report.
"It's unfair, it's deeply flawed, it has many errors and omissions," the former university president told Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker and CNN senior legal analyst. "They interviewed, they say, over 430 people; many of those folks have spoken to me about their interviews. Many of them describe those interviews to me as a witch hunt."