Franco Harris thinks that former Penn State University President Graham Spanier got screwed.
Harris, 67, the former Penn State star and NFL Hall of Famer with the Pittsburgh Steelers, went on John Ziegler's "World According To Zig" podcast on Sunday to describe the trial and subsequent jail sentence of Spanier as a ridiculous farce.
"They had this secret witness who was guarded by 1,000 police take the stand," Harris said, laughing. "It was a farce, it was staged."
Harris was referring to the Dauphin County trial of Spanier last March, when Judge John A. Boccabella had a phalanx of extra sheriff's deputies patrolling the courtroom while the judge introduced 28-year-old Michal Kajak to the jury as "John Doe."
Kajak, who testified as a sex abuse victim of Jerry Sandusky's, proceeded to sob on cue. Only the jury was never told about the sex abuse that Kajak allegedly suffered. It wasn't rape; Kajak was allegedly soaped up in the shower by Sandusky, for which Kajak collected in a civil settlement $8 million.
And when Kajak got through his direct testimony, with the help of some Kleenex, the cowed defense lawyers in the case were too intimidated to ask Kajak a single question. Even though Kajak, a shaky witness at best, had given four different dates for the alleged shower incident, varying from 1998 to 2001, when he was between 10 and 14 years old.
In the Kangaroo Court of Judge Boccabella, this was all the evidence that was needed to send a man up the river. Spanier was promptly convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, and the judge sentenced him to 4 to 12 months in jail.
"That was so ridiculous," Harris said about the jail sentence. "So once again we see the political system at work here with the Attorney General's office. That was a farce."
About the prosecution's case against Spanier, Harris said, "They showed nothing, they had nothing. It was all an emotional appeal to the jury."
"This judge was just ridiculous," Harris said. And then there was the Attorney General's office.
Short of an acquittal on all the charges, "This is the second best verdict we could have had," Harris said, because the jury found Spanier innocent of a second endangerment charge, as well as a charge of conspiracy.
"And the Attorney General's office tried to make it . . . like they had this big victory," Harris said.
"And of course the media lapped it up," Ziegler chimed in. "The media is so dumb. Anything that substantiates their fairy tale narrative they embrace."
Ziegler asked Harris, a longtime defender of former Coach Joe Paterno, if he believed that Sandusky was innocent.
"There will always be questions about that because a lot of them [the alleged victims] weren't even vetted," Harris said. "Penn State ended up playing all the money [$93 million to 32 alleged victims] and Penn State didn't even take the time to vet anyone."
In Harris's view, his former coach got tarred and feathered.
Harris said he would continue the fight to clear Paterno's name.
"We have to get the story out, we want to educate Penn Staters," he said. He expects "this HBO movie" starring Al Pacino to stir things up again.
"There are things that we're gonna have to do to really get our side of the story out," Harris said. "That's going to be very important, to get our side of the story out."
"We will continuing fighting and never stop."
On the podcast, Harris said he was reading an advance copy of Mark Pendergrast's book on the Penn State sex scandal, "The Most Hated Man In America; Jerry Sandusky and The Rush To Judgment," which has been excerpted several times on Big Trial.
"It definitely makes you question some things," Harris said about Pendergrast's book. "It definitely isn't over."
Elsewhere, on the podcast, Harris talked bout the upcoming football season. He pronounced Penn State's Saquon Barkley "the real deal." And revealed how he changed his diet 17 years ago to include blueberries and fish oil in hopes of healing his brain from all the concussions he's had on the gridiron.
Harris also panned former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick for his social activism.
"When he puts that suit on it is not just about him and his position," Harris said. "The team has to come first."
The entire podcast can be heard here.