After sixteen years as president of Penn State, Graham Spanier found his life and career turned upside down almost overnight in November 2011 in a firestorm of breaking news concerning alleged child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach. Little did Spanier know that his life would unravel in a nightmare of false accusations and labyrinthine legal proceedings stemming from a scandal surrounding a man he barely knew and who hadn’t been in Penn State’s employ since 1998. In the Lions’ Den is a personal memoir, told by a central figure caught up in the crush of those events. It reveals how and why the university and many individuals, including Spanier himself and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, were unfairly targeted in a colossal miscarriage of justice.
In the Lions’ Den exposes those who made false accusations, either for political or financial gain, including the former Director of the FBI, whose investigation was widely condemned; the governor of Pennsylvania who was voted out of office because of his central role in the matter; the grandstanding NCAA president who imposed penalties that would ultimately be reversed; an attorney general elected on a promise to investigate the injustice who would soon be sent to prison for her crimes emanating from the calamity; the grand jury judge who would be accused of wrongdoing in the saga by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; the lead prosecutor whose license to practice law would be suspended by the supreme court for his malpractice; and the university’s general counsel who would be censured by the supreme court for her malfeasance in representing Penn State officials.
The book also touches on the infamous Pennsylvania “Porngate” scandal that revealed a pornography ring operated out of the Office of Attorney General by many of the same prosecutors, investigators, judges, and state police commissioner who relentlessly pursued Spanier.
This book is for anyone interested in the real story of one of the biggest scandals in collegiate history.
For the Truth, how long do we have to wait? Pursuing the Truth is a rough road with many challenges but it needs to be done. Thank you Graham Spanier for having the courage and staying the course. Our wait for the Truth is finally over.Franco Harris Late NFL Hall of Famer
A decade ago, allegations of child sexual abuse against a former Penn State football coach were stoked and sometimes distorted by scrambling reports and politically ambitious prosecutors. Their story swept across the nation like a hurricane, engulfing a university president and others who became collateral damage. Now that former president makes the case for a more careful consideration.Jerry Kammer Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
The relentless pursuit of Graham Spanier represents a sad chapter in the history of the American justice system that tainted the reputations of investigators, prosecutors, judges and politicians. This book meticulously unmasks a decade-long, overzealous, misguided effort to shift blame from an accused predator to a renowned university president—because of who he was, not what he did.Honorable Timothy Lewis Former Federal Appellate Court Judge
With disturbing and explicit detail, Spanier, an innocent victim of a public hysteria, writes about justice denied from accusation to trial to incarceration, with all its humiliations and degradation—but also provides an uplifting account of the humanity that surrounded him. He has brilliantly taken a grotesque miscarriage of justice and enlightened us all.Frank Phillips Boston Globe
This accounting of justice run amok and political vindictiveness, exacerbated by the twisted influence of media narrative, makes for compelling reading.Gay Talese Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Journalism
Graham Spanier is a good and honorable man who was deeply wronged by the media and the legal system. If you are at all curious about what a miscarriage of justice looks like, read In the Lions’ Den.Malcolm Gladwell ASA Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Award
It is undeniable that this book raises real questions about our justice system.Edward Rendell Former Governor of Pennsylvania
Graham Spanier’s harrowing and compelling account of our deeply broken legal system illuminates too many sad truths; that justice is neither swift nor impartial. The obvious abuse of power for political gain described in In the Lions’ Den is Kafkaesque and sadly, all too common. Deliberately and soberly, Spanier leads us through one of the most explosive scandals in recent history with his integrity intact.Valerie Plame Former covert CIA operations officer
Graham Spanier presided over one of the most exciting periods in Penn State history before facing by far its biggest challenges. His perspective from inside these events provides valuable and important insights that anyone interested in the full story should read and appreciate.Sue Paterno Community Leader
In the Lion’s Den provides a devastatingly detailed account of a system of justice determined to find blame even where none existed. The book, a must read for understanding the depth to which justice can fall, is a powerful account of how a major university and prosecutors rushed to judgment. Dr. Spanier is the heart and soul of this story, but the reader also learns of the unfair treatment of legendary coach Joe Paterno and other administrators.John Kramer Former Director of the United States Sentencing Commission
Though I am not surprised Graham Spanier was a victim of injustice, In The Lion's Den supplies massive and necessary details proving that tragedy.... This is a book that's vital for those who hope to create a reasonable system of justice in Pennsylvania, perhaps for the first time in its long history.John Hanger Former Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Candidate
It’s like popcorn. I can’t stop reading.
Very meticulous, well written, and very compelling.
Your story was riveting and moving — and also horrifying in what it revealed about the entire judicial process.
There are more dangerous villains within your pages than in any crime novel or police procedural that I’ve ever read.
The story is so heartbreaking…
I think it has the potential to be a hit.
If I had to pick one moment that blew me away, it would be the passage where you say you completed a gift to Penn State just as the university was rendering you an unperson.
Spanier endeavors to set the record straight: he and fellow administrators did NOT neglect their duty to address child abuse, or participate in a covert cover-up of Sandusky’s misbehavior.
There’s a genuineness which came through…I could almost literally hear Spanier’s voice as I read the book.
Spanier’s story describes a set of corrupted institutions, the worst a tainted criminal justice system, which come off far worse than the damage and shame he suffered.
If you are a Pennsylvania citizen, you are going to be embarrassed by the conduct of those entrusted to prosecute our justice system.
Packed with extraordinarily-documented details.
I can't put this down.
There is so much in the book that I was not aware of due to the lack of honest press coverage. It helped me to understand what really happened and who the players were.
I had no real idea of the depth of the lies, deception, vengefulness and politics involved in this stunning example of injustice.
Without a doubt, In the Lions’ Den will endure as a lasting insider’s account, an enlightening narrative concerning every detail of the case’s lengthy course.
It’s compelling, very well-organized and written and, at turns, heartbreaking. Most importantly, it was a book that absolutely needed to be written.
The extent of the injustice, the worst of politicians, the judicial system, the media, and the lawyers… is so disheartening and angering. The idea that all of those failures were purposely directed at one person is truly hard to comprehend ...
Whatever happened to ethical, moral, decent behavior? Especially from those who have promised dedication to the laws of this country. Eye opening for most of us.
It’s powerful, informative and tragic!
This book is wonderfully insightful and tells the TRUE story of the scandal. It also divulges WHO was responsible for the travesty people erroneously believe is the 'Penn State Scandal.'
A must-read for Pennsylvanians. We all share the same judges.
On behalf of all of us who have led great universities, thank you for taking the time to write this book and provide a comprehensive view into the damage that "politics" can wreak.
A very sober, careful, convincing job of setting the record straight...
That vast number of Penn Staters who want to understand the ins and outs of the full story will find this book irresistible.
It’s hard to walk away from In the Lion’s Den with much respect for Pennsylvania’s system of criminal justice, much less the NCAA or the leadership of Penn State’s board of trustees.
One word: Irrefutable.
The book is lengthy, meticulous, and thoroughly convincing. No one who reads it will doubt that Spanier and the others were victims of a vendetta from the highest political circles in Pennsylvania.
I can’t remember when I have ever read a book that forced me to think more.
I don’t know how to say I enjoyed the book when so much of it made me cringe.
Your portrayal of some of the inmates, Ellis, Steve, and Joel, made me respect them more than many of the judges, prosecutors, and journalists who slithered off the pages.
Wow! What a Kafkaesque nightmare! Impressive. Depressing. Shocking. Illuminating. Readable—amazingly readable.
I think your book should be required reading for every law school. Surely the law students would recognize the lack of both character and ethical behavior.
An exceptionally influential work.
Each page makes me cringe with pure disbelief, knowing our legal system has the power to create laws and punish individuals to satisfy personal vendettas.
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Trim: 6 x 9
“Dr. Spanier is what I like to call ‘collateral damage’ of this case…this entire matter is in my experience – I’ve been a lawyer for over fifty years… one of the worst things that has ever happened in the history of American jurisprudence.”
At 4:05, Graham talks with John Snedden about the impact Franco Harris had on promoting the truth about the Penn State scandal: “He (Franco) was just getting warmed up with still trying to fix the old, inaccurate narrative.”
Graham remembers Penn State advocate and alumnus Franco Harris. Read his statement here.
At 11:48, Graham tells “All Over the Place” host Eric Porvaznik about “uniformly positive” reactions to the book, and speaks candidly about his incarceration and prison reform efforts.
Graham Spanier: “An attorney representing the University said to me, ‘I have read everything … pertaining to this matter. I know everything about this… and we have concluded that you have done nothing wrong.'” Watch the complete book talk here.
Graham Spanier: “I was completely exonerated in a federal investigation…” Watch the full interview
Book Goodies sits down with former Penn State president Graham Spanier to talk about the release of his new book.
“A compulsively readable memoir…”
– read more from reviewer Rebecca Mugridge
R. Thomas Berner writes that Spanier was told by a former Penn State trustee, “Nobody on the Board of Trustees actually believes the Freeh Report.”
Eric Porvaznik interviews Graham on his podcast All Over The Place
Graham tells host John Odermatt, “It simply was not in my value system – it never will be in my value system – to plead guilty to something I’m not guilty of.” Watch the complete interview here.
Anchor Dennis Owens files this report on ABC27, which also airs throughout the state on “This Week in Pennsylvania.”
Pleased to be recognized by the Authors Guild.
Literary experts are weighing in. Penn State Librarian Emeritus Leon J. Stout reviews In the Lions’ Den:
“The university has taken some steps to make this right, but they haven’t gone all the way there,” Graham tells WJAC’s Gary Sinderson. Watch here
“Highly recommend. Five stars!” Ray Blehar reviews In the Lions’ Den.
Did you know that Graham was offered the opportunity to run the NCAA? Host Kevin Slaten welcomes Graham to “The King’s Court” and unpacks the NCAA overreach, the role of Pennsylvania politics, and more. Interview begins at 1:02.
Ralph Cipriano offers a 9-minute primer for Search Warrant podcast on the “Autopsy on a Political Hit Job.”
Literary experts are weighing in. Catherine Alloway, former director, Schlow Centre Region Library, reviews In the Lions’ Den:
Graham joins host & veteran NCIS Special Agent John Snedden on this week’s podcast episode entitled, “Fantastic Lies.”
Literary experts are weighing in. Penn State Professor Emeritus Jack Selzer reviews In the Lions’ Den:
“Whether Spanier’s extended testimony here will moderate hardened judgments is for people to decide for themselves; but without a doubt In the Lions’ Den will endure as a lasting insider’s account, an enlightening narrative concerning every detail of the case’s lengthy course. (click to read full review)
“We should have a system of justice that is capable of adjudicating and punishing genuine perpetrators while protecting the falsely accused.” – Graham Spanier