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Last updated: June 23. 2014 9:01PM - 3595 Views
By Bill O’Boyle boboyle@civitasmedia.com



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HARRISBURG — State Attorney General Kathleen Kane released her office’s review Monday of the Jerry Sandusky case that she said found “the facts show an inexcusable lack of urgency in charging and stopping a serial sexual predator.”


Kane, of Scranton, also said there was no evidence that politics played a role in the delays.


Kane’s public airing of the report pitted her against another Northeastern Pennsylvania resident, Pennsylvania State Police Commission Frank Noonan, of Clarks Summit. He had been with the Attorney General’s Office during the Sandusky probe and defended the agency’s probe later Monday.


Kane and Special Deputy Attorney General H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. said the investigation took too long due to “crucial missteps and inexplicable delays” in bringing the former Penn State assistant coach to justice.


Gov. Tom Corbett, who is running for re-election in November and was the attorney general when the Sandusky probe began, took issue with Kane’s report. Convicted in June 2012 of sexually abusing 10 pre-teen and teenage boys, Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.


The report says:


• It took from March 2009 to March 2010 for the AG’s office to recommend charging Sandusky because basic investigation steps, like searching Sandusky’s home, were not taken.


• Despite a draft presentment offered by career prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach in March 2010, which recommended filing multiple charges against Sandusky based on statements from Victim 1 and other corroborating evidence, senior leadership failed to act on it for five months.


• In the months following, “little effort” was made to locate more victims or to charge Sandusky, leaving that case at a standstill until a tip was received by the Centre County District Attorney in November 2010.


“This case sat inactive for months while a predator was on the streets and a victim waited for justice,” Kane said. “It is unfathomable why there was such a lack of urgency.”


Local reaction


The Sandusky case and the implications for the late Joe Paterno, Sandusky’s onetime boss and Penn State’s legendary coach, have been keenly watched in Northeastern Pennsylvania, which has three PSU branch campuses and legions of Penn State football fans.


Attorney Michael Hudacek of Plymouth, a longtime Penn State season ticket holder, said Monday it’s time to put the Sandusky case behind and move forward.


“We could debate this forever,” Hudacek said. “And I’m not sure we would get any different result than what we have. I think it’s best that we look to the future.”


Tom Pugh, former CEO at John Heinz Rehab on Mundy Street and a Penn State graduate, said the Kane review of the investigation began because of allegations of possible political motivations on the part of Corbett — allegations that were not found in the review conducted by Moulton.


“However, from the sound of today’s news conference, it seems we have political motivations on the part of the current attorney general,” Pugh said. “When you start saying you would have handled things differently, then it seems politics is at hand. And the timing of this release has political overtones because the governor is running for reelection.”


Kane’s review


Kane’s report said that, despite the conviction and sentence, there were many concerns raised about the investigation, prompting her review.


Moulton’s review found no direct evidence that “political directives” drove any decisions made throughout the investigation, a finding repeated by Kane during the news conference.


Prosecutors and investigators who handled the Sandusky investigation have said the Kane-Moulton review is politically motivated.


In a prepared statement, Corbett said: “This investigation was never about politics. It was always about the people victimized by this man.”


Moulton, an associate professor emeritus at Widener University Law School and a former federal prosecutor, began his review of the case in February 2013, nearly one month after Kane took office as the first woman attorney general in Pennsylvania history.


However, the report does raise concerns regarding decisions made at the outset of the probe in 2009 though 2011 that delayed the investigation and the filing of charges.


Other delays


In addition to not searching Sandusky’s house, the report calls attention to other delays, including requesting records from local police and child protective services, and seeking information from The Second Mile, among others.


The reports states that “the failure to search Sandusky’s residence earlier in the investigation is difficult to defend.”


She said the “suggestion that a conviction erases the need to ensure missteps are not made again in the future is seriously flawed,” Kane said. “The failure to search Sandusky’s resident with appropriate urgency alone in both unexcused and inexcusable.”


Moulton said post-action reviews are vitally important.


“Our goal was to provide a factual, unbiased review of the investigation and to identify any ways that law enforcement can do a better job protecting children,” Moulton said. “Attorney General Kane made it clear to me from the beginning that this review was not about politics. This was about a core function of government — protecting children.”


The report includes comments from an expert in the investigation of child molesters who said search warrants often are not obtained soon enough.


“That was certainly the case in the Sandusky investigation,” the report states.


The search uncovered many photographs of Sandusky victims, as well as lists of Second Mile campers with handwritten asterisks next to their names.


“Had the search been conducted in 2009 or 2010, investigators could have used the photographs and names with asterisks to find victims much earlier than they did,” the report states.


Mouton said the report shows that prosecutors told him they waited until 2011 to search Sandusky’s home computer and to subpoena child protective services records because they “believed that they were unlikely to be productive and would have risked publicly revealing the existence of the investigation.”


The report notes the investigation received a tip two days after Corbett was elected governor in November 2010, when the Centre County prosecutor received an anonymous email directing investigators to Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary, whose testimony eventually helped convict Sandusky.


Moulton said additional victims were identified, and on June 21, 2011, Sandusky’s home was searched, producing photos and typewritten lists of children — some identified by asterisks — who participated in events at Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile.


He said the decision not to file charges based solely on one accuser and later with three more witnesses testifying before a grand jury, “fit within acceptable bounds of prosecutorial discretion.”


Kane’s office said the Moulton report cost the state about $180,000.


 
 
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