In The

Lions' Den

The Penn State Scandal and a Rush to Judgment


Graham Spanier

Gryphon Eagle Press | NOW AVAILABLE

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The Story

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.

Listen to the Prologue

Graham Spanier

GRAHAM SPANIER served as president of The Pennsylvania State University from September 1995 to November 2011. His prior positions include chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oregon State University, and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He previously served Penn State from 1973 to 1982 as a member of the faculty and in three administrative positions in the College of Health and Human Development.

A family sociologist, demographer, and marriage and family therapist, he earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University. He is the recipient of three honorary doctorates. Spanier is President Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus at Penn State. He held academic appointments as professor of human development and family studies, sociology, demography, and family and community medicine.

As president of Penn State, Dr. Spanier was often described as an unconventional university president. He is a magician who served as faculty advisor to the Penn State Performing Magicians, performed with Penn State’s Musical Theatre students, the marching band, the glee club, and the chamber orchestra. He has run with the bulls in Pamplona, has a commercial pilot’s license, and plays percussion with the Deacons of Dixieland. He and his racquetball partner were the eleven-time Penn State co-ed intramural racquetball champions.

He oversaw one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive universities, with nearly 100,000 students and 47,000 employees on 24 campuses and a physical plant of 1,700 buildings. During his tenure, applications soared to more than 120,000 per year and the academic standing of dozens of programs rose in national rankings.

As a national leader in higher education, Spanier chaired the Association of American Universities, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and led the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities. He was a founding member of the Internet2 board, U.S. Chair and international Vice Chair of the Worldwide Universities Network, and co-chair, with the President of the Recording Industry Association of America, of the Committee on Higher Education and the Entertainment Industry. Dr. Spanier was the first university president to receive the Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence awarded by the American Council on Education. He was given the American Institute of Architects Award for Contribution to the Profession by a Non-Architect.

In the world of collegiate athletics, he chaired the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, was a member of the NCAA Executive Committee, was chair of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Presidential Oversight Board, oversaw the reorganization of the Fiesta Bowl, was chairman of the Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents/Chancellors, and chaired commissions for the NCAA.

A distinguished researcher and scholar, he has more than 100 scholarly publications, including ten books, and was the founding editor of the Journal of Family Issues. Spanier served as President of the National Council of Family Relations, chairman of the Board of Directors of Child Fund International (formerly Christian Children’s Fund), a member of the Board of Governors of Junior Achievement Worldwide, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National 4-H Council.

Spanier served as chair of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a member of the National Counterintelligence Working Group, and as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Naval Postgraduate School and the Naval War College. He has received numerous recognitions for his contributions to national security, including being honored as one of the “Most Influential People in Security,” the “Wings of Law” Award from the Respect for Law Alliance, the Director’s Award for “Exceptional Public Service” presented by the FBI, and the Warren Medal for “Outstanding Contributions to the National Security of the United States of America.” He has been a frequent speaker at FBI and other governmental and educational conferences and seminars on topics related to national security.

Spanier spent decades working in television and radio, even while serving higher education. He hosted To the Best of My Knowledge, a live call-in program on public television and radio, and Expert Opinion, a sports topic program on the Big Ten Network.

Spanier currently serves as a consultant in national and international security, intelligence, and risk management.

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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It is undeniable that this book raises real questions about our justice system.

Edward Rendell Former Governor of Pennsylvania
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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
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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
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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
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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
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It’s like popcorn. I can’t stop reading.

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Very meticulous, well written, and very compelling.

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Your story was riveting and moving — and also horrifying in what it revealed about the entire judicial process.

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There are more dangerous villains within your pages than in any crime novel or police procedural that I’ve ever read.

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The story is so heartbreaking…

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I think it has the potential to be a hit.

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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.

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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.

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There’s a genuineness which came through…I could almost literally hear Spanier’s voice as I read the book.

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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.

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If you are a Pennsylvania citizen, you are going to be embarrassed by the conduct of those entrusted to prosecute our justice system.

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Packed with extraordinarily-documented details.

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I can't put this down.

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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.

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I had no real idea of the depth of the lies, deception, vengefulness and politics involved in this stunning example of injustice.

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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.

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It’s compelling, very well-organized and written and, at turns, heartbreaking. Most importantly, it was a book that absolutely needed to be written.

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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 ...

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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.

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It’s powerful, informative and tragic!

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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.'

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A must-read for Pennsylvanians. We all share the same judges.

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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.

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A very sober, careful, convincing job of setting the record straight...

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That vast number of Penn Staters who want to understand the ins and outs of the full story will find this book irresistible.

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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.

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One word: Irrefutable.

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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.

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I can’t remember when I have ever read a book that forced me to think more.

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I don’t know how to say I enjoyed the book when so much of it made me cringe.

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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.

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Wow! What a Kafkaesque nightmare! Impressive. Depressing. Shocking. Illuminating. Readable—amazingly readable.

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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.

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An exceptionally influential work.

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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.

In The Lions’ Den is available in print, electronic and audiobook formats through these fine retailers:


Retailers and libraries may source through their preferred wholesaler or contact our distributor, Cardinal Publishers Group

Book Info

ISBN: 979-8-9856994-9-4

Format: Hardcover

Trim: 6 x 9

Pages: 512

Price: $24.95

February 9, 2023

Attorney Al Lindsay Press Conference

“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.”

December 28, 2022

"Search Warrant" Podcast 🔘

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.”

December 22, 2022

Statement on the life of Franco Harris

Graham remembers Penn State advocate and alumnus Franco Harris. Read his statement here.

December 18, 2022

"All Over the Place" Podcast 🔘

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.

November 27, 2022


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.

October 22, 2022

WGAL-TV "In Focus" 📺

Graham Spanier: “I was completely exonerated in a federal investigation…” Watch the full interview


June 20, 2022

Book Goodies Interview with Graham Spanier 🗣

Book Goodies sits down with former Penn State president Graham Spanier to talk about the release of his new book.

Read More

August 1, 2022

Library Journal 📕

“A compulsively readable memoir…”
– read more from reviewer Rebecca Mugridge


September 1, 2022

State College Magazine 📖

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.”

August 21, 2022

"All Over the Place" Podcast 🔘

Eric Porvaznik interviews Graham on his podcast All Over The Place

August 23, 2022

"Finding Freedom" Podcast 🔘

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.

August 25, 2022

Harrisburg ABC27 📺

Anchor Dennis Owens files this report on ABC27, which also airs throughout the state on “This Week in Pennsylvania.”

August 26, 2022

Authors Guild Member Spotlight 💡

Pleased to be recognized by the Authors Guild.

October 17, 2022

Book Review 📚

Literary experts are weighing in. Penn State Librarian Emeritus Leon J. Stout reviews In the Lions’ Den:

“This fully documented memoir will be invaluable for future historians.” (click to read full review).



August 30, 2022


“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


September 3, 2022

WRVO "Campbell Conversations" with Grant Reeher 📡

Graham talks about the federal investigation that completely exonerated him, parallels to the Duke Lacrosse scandal, and more with WRVO Public Media host Grant Reeher ⬇️

September 6, 2022

Second Mile - Sandusky Scandal - SMSS 📇

“Highly recommend. Five stars!” Ray Blehar reviews In the Lions’ Den.

September 14, 2022

"The King's Court" 🔘

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.

September 15, 2022

"Search Warrant" Podcast 🔘

Ralph Cipriano offers a 9-minute primer for Search Warrant podcast on the “Autopsy on a Political Hit Job.”

September 25, 2022

Book Review 📚

Literary experts are weighing in. Catherine Alloway, former director, Schlow Centre Region Library, reviews In the Lions’ Den:

September 21, 2022

"Search Warrant" Podcast 🔘

Graham joins host & veteran NCIS Special Agent John Snedden on this week’s podcast episode entitled, “Fantastic Lies.”

September 22, 2022

Centre Daily Times 📰

“Somebody had to get the truth out.”

September 30, 2022

790-WAEB "Outlook" with Dan Holzman 📡

Dan Holzman interviews Graham on this Lehigh Valley public affairs broadcast of “Outlook.” Listen here ⬇️

October 3, 2022

PennLive/Patriot-News 📰

“We should have a system of justice that is capable of adjudicating and punishing genuine perpetrators while protecting the falsely accused.” – Graham Spanier

October 6, 2022 🗣


October 18, 2022

"In the War Room" Podcast 🔘

Join host Ryan Ray as he breaks down the truth about the Penn State scandal with Graham Spanier.

January 24, 2023

Altoona, PA

Thank you, Penn State – Altoona Barnes & Noble for hosting our presentation and book signing!

January 25, 2023

University Park, PA


January 28, 2023

Isle of Palms, SC

Thank you, Fran Soistman, for your “Low Country” hospitality!

February 9, 2023

Naples, FL

Thank you, Penn State – Naples Alumni Chapter and Naples Sailing & Yacht Club for hosting such a supportive and informative evening!

February 11, 2023

Daytona Beach, FL

Thank you, Tomoka Town Center Barnes & Noble, for hosting our Daytona Beach book signing event.

February 15, 2023

Central Florida / The Villages

Our Lake Sumter Market Square Barnes & Noble presentation & book signing event was a huge success with Central Florida Penn Staters!

February 16, 2023

Jupiter, FL

It was a beautiful venue and even better crowd for our reception in Jupiter, FL. Thank you for joining us!

2022 Completed Appearances

September 10, 2022

Scranton, PA

Thank you, Library Express!

September 14, 2022

Johnstown, PA

Thank you, Classic Elements!

September 15, 2022

Rock Springs, PA

Thank you, Penn State Retirees Association!

September 18, 2022

Des Moines, IA

Thank you, Beaverdale Books!

September 18, 2022

West Des Moines, IA

Thank you, Barnes & Noble!

September 23, 2022

Williamsport, PA

Thank you, Otto Bookstore!


September 30, 2022

State College, PA

Thank you, Hyatt Place!

October 1, 2022

State College, PA

Thank you, Christian Lengel, for your tailgate hospitality!

October 4, 2022

Silver City, NM

Thank you, Western New Mexico University!
“The University Presidency & Confronting Injustice”

October 8, 2022

Collegeville, PA

Thank you, Towne Book Center!

October 9, 2022

Easton, PA

Thank you, Barnes & Noble! 

October 16, 2022

Harrisburg, PA

Thank you, Cupboard Maker Books and CSPAN-BookTV!

October 17, 2022

Monroeville, PA

Thank you, Monroeville Public Library!

October 18, 2022

New Castle, PA

Thank you, Sam Bernstine & Crane Room Grille!      

October 23, 2022

Bethlehem, PA

Thank you, Moravian Book Shop!


October 27, 2022

Greenfield Township, PA

Thank you, Valerie & Al Clemens, for a wonderful event at Elkview Country Club!


October 29, 2022

State College, PA

Thank you, Ted Brown, for your tailgate hospitality!


November 3, 2022

State College, PA

It was great to visit with the residents of the Village at Penn State. Thank you for your warm welcome!


November 5, 2022

Charlotte, NC (Ft.Mill, SC)

Thank you, Sun City Carolina Lakes!


November 5, 2022

Weddington/Waxhaw, NC

Thank you, John & Ruth Maiolo, Wayne & Ginger Seelbach and Harry Swimmer for a wonderful weekend on our book tour!

November 10, 2022

Great Falls, VA

Thank you, Murchison family, for your generosity, hospitality and a wonderfully informative evening!

November 12, 2022

University Park, PA

Thank you, Ted Brown, for your tailgate hospitality!

November 13, 2022

Pine Grove Mills, PA

Thank you, Liz Grove and Pine Grove Hall!

November 15, 2022

Fort Myers, FL

Thank you, President Michael V. Martin and Florida Gulf Coast University!

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