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Penn State ex-President Spanier arraigned

Penn State ex-President Spanier arraigned

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) Former Penn State president Graham Spanier was arraigned and released on bail at a brief court appearance Wednesday on charges he lied about and concealed child sex abuse allegations involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Spanier, accompanied by his wife, signed paperwork after his bail was set at $125,000, but he was not required to post any of that amount. He was ordered to forfeit his passport and be fingerprinted. He didn't enter a plea.

Afterward, defense attorney Elizabeth Ainslie told reporters her client is ``not guilty, absolutely'' and disputed prosecutors' claims Spanier conspired with university athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. She said Spanier, who testified before a grand jury in the matter, has not been given the opportunity to present his side of the story.

``This wasn't a conspiracy of silence,'' she said, echoing the charge made last week by state Attorney General Linda Kelly. ``That is ridiculous.''

Spanier, 64, was charged last week with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy for his actions in response to complaints about Sandusky showering with children. Spanier has claimed he is being framed for political purposes.

He served as Penn State's president for 16 years but was forced out a year ago after Sandusky was charged along with Curley and Schultz, who were two of Spanier's top underlings. Spanier is on paid leave as a member of the faculty.

Along with the charges against Spanier, prosecutors added counts against Curley and Schultz. They were arraigned Thursday. District judge William Wenner told Spanier and his lawyers the Nov. 16 preliminary hearing date would likely be delayed a month or two.

Curley, the athletic director on leave until the final year of his contract expires, and Schultz, now retired, await trial early next year on charges of failure to report suspected abuse and perjury. Like Spanier, they deny the allegations.

On Monday, state prosecutors filed paperwork telling the judge in the earlier Curley and Schultz case they did not object to their request to delay the planned Jan. 7 start of that trial. The attorney general's office said it would seek to combine those charges, the new charges, and Spanier's case.

The latest charges came almost exactly a year after details of the case against Sandusky sent a maelstrom through State College, toppling longtime head coach Joe Paterno and eventually leading to severe NCAA sanctions against the football team.

Sandusky, 68, vigorously contested the charges but was convicted in June of 45 counts of abuse of boys, including violent sexual attacks inside campus facilities. He was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in prison.

A grand jury report alleged Spanier testified falsely that he did not know of a 1998 complaint against Sandusky, made by a mother and investigated by university police.

It also claimed Spanier lied about a 2001 instance of abuse witnessed by a graduate assistant, when he testified that Curley and Schultz described it only as horseplay. Email traffic among the men, jurors wrote, ``make clear they are discussing an event that involves the abuse of a child.''

The grand jury report described how he addressed the growing scandal last year with the board of trustees, and how he put out statements supportive of Curley and Schultz after their arrest. The report said investigators were immediately able to get important records from the university after Spanier was replaced as president.

Spanier's lawyers put out a statement law week that accused Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general when the investigation began, of orchestrating the charges to divert attention from questions about why it took three years to bring charges against Sandusky. They said there was no factual basis for the Spanier charges and said the grand jury report was ``a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man.''

Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said Spanier's lawyers ``are trying to divert attention from the fact that their client is charged with covering up for a convicted pedophile. The law applies to all equally, including men entrusted with the authority of university president.''

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

The Wizards are reportedly preparing to make Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri a massive offer to run Washington's NBA franchise. And they may have some big-time help recruiting him to D.C. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is trying to persuade Ujiri to leave the NBA champions to join the Wizards, according to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. 

"I hear Barack Obama's a part of that whole Masai recruitment to D.C.," Strauss said on a recent episode of the "Back To Back" podcast. "I've heard Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball."

Obama and Ujiri are close friends. Obama was in attendance at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, while Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2015 when Obama was in office. 

The Wizards' potential offer for Ujiri is reportedly for six years, $60 million, and could possibly include an ownership stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment and other responsibilities within the company, sources have told NBC Sports Washington. 

And hey, it doesn't hurt to have the former Commander in Chief making your sales pitch.

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Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosted one of their final prospect workouts in anticipation of the June 20 NBA Draft on Friday, as six players battled in three-on-three drills with every member of Washington's front office and coaching staff in sight. But behind the glass wall of the dining lounge at the Wizards' practice facility at St. Elizabeth's was the player everyone wanted to see.

Sekou Doumbouya, who is projected to land in the lottery on draft night, made a visit to Washington to speak with Wizards personnel. He did not participate in the workout, but through face-to-face interviews gave the Wizards an up-close look at a player who may or may not be on the board when they are on the clock with the ninth overall pick.

Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old, with his birthday not until late December. He is originally from Guinea but played professional basketball in France. Given his age and the fact he played in a second-tier league before making the leap to the NBA, Doumbouya holds some mystery as a prospect.

In his meetings with teams, Doumbouya has tried to hammer home one point in particular.

"My defense," he said. "I can play everywhere [because] if you play defense, you can play everywhere in the league."

Defense certainly stands out when it comes to Doumbouya's potential. He is 6-foot-9 with a reported 7-foot-2 wingspan. At his age, he could keep growing. And at that size, he has the mobility to guard multiple positions, force turnovers and maybe even block some shots.

The Wizards need help with just about every area of their defense. They were 27th in defensive rating last season and 29th in points allowed. They couldn't defend the perimeter or the lane, allowing the fourth-highest three-point percentage (37%) and the fifth-most three-point makes (12.1/g), while also allowing more field goals within five feet of the rim than any team (22.1/g) and the third-highest percentage (64.2%) in that range. 

Doumbouya projects as the type of defensive anchor who could help in a variety of ways. He could step out to guard three-point shooters while also clogging lanes to the basket with his length.

The questions for Doumbouya center around how NBA-ready he is at his age and experience, and what his ceiling will ultimately be on the offensive end. Doumbouya, though, believes he can be especially effective in transition.

"Fastbreak," he said when listing his strengths. "I love running [the floor]."

Whether Doumbouya will be available at the ninth pick depends on who you ask. Most mock drafts have him at nine or lower, but his athleticism and versatility could entice a team that picks before the Wizards.

The Hawks, whom Doumbouya met with the day after seeing the Wizards, are a team to watch. They have the eighth, 10th and 17th picks in the first round, so they can afford to take a risk. They could snag Doumbouya at No. 8, then go with a safer pick or two with their other selections.

But there is a very good chance Doumbouya is the best player available when the Wizards get set to make their pick. If he does, defense will be his biggest selling point.

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