By Mark Shade
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Two former Penn State University officials will go on trial in January on charges of failing to report suspected child sex abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and then lying about their involvement to a grand jury.
In an order released on Friday, Judge Todd Hoover set January 7 for the start of jury selection for the trial of former Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz. Opening arguments at the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Court of Common Pleas will begin immediately after a jury is chosen.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child molestation and is in jail awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 370 years in prison.
Curley, 58, and Schultz, 62, have each been charged with perjury for allegedly lying to a state grand jury probing the Sandusky matter and the involvement of key university officials. Both were also charged with failing to report a 2001 incident in which a graduate assistant told them he had seen Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in an on-campus football locker room shower.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Hoover's trial-start order was made public on Friday but was signed late on Thursday, only hours after the judge heard arguments from both men's attorneys on a motion to drop the perjury charges. Hoover has not yet ruled on the motion.
Attorneys for Curley and Schultz have until September 4 to respond to the prosecution's filings earlier this week regarding the second charge against each of failing to report suspected child abuse, Hoover said. A separate hearing on that charge could occur at a later date.
Reverberations from the Sandusky scandal continue to roil the university some nine months after the initial charges of child abuse prompted the firing last November of university president Graham Spanier and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno, who had been Sandusky's boss.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body for U.S. college sports, last month fined Penn State $60 million for a systemic failure to stop Sandusky's child predation over 15 years and banned its once-proud football team from playing in post-season games for the next four years.
It also vacated all of the team's wins from the past 14 seasons, a move that stripped Paterno of the mantle of being the most victorious coach in the history of major college football.
Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
Sandusky's victims have threatened to sue the university, and the grand jury investigation remains underway.
(Editing by Dan Burns and Sandra Maler)