Opinions flooded Harrisburg
Last Modified: February 18. 2013 8:26PM
The Philadelphia Inquirer says letters and e-mails poured into Gov. Tom Corbett‚??s office within hours after former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged in November with having sexually abused several boys, some of them on Penn State‚??s campus. The paper said it obtained the material under the state‚??s Right To Know law.
The response included reaction from Americans living in other countries, handwritten notes from people who said they were sexual abuse victims, and even a note from former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who had just pulled out of the Republican presidential race, citing the experience of a partner in a Minnesota law firm ‚??in investigating misconduct and scandals.‚?Ě
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and a South Carolina-based victims‚?? rights group, Darkness to Light, both offered their services, and a law school dean and scrap metal business owner offered to serve on any resulting boards or committees.
Sandusky, who was an assistant to veteran coach Joe Paterno, has been charged with 52 criminal counts in what state prosecutors allege was the sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He maintains his innocence and is out on bail while he awaits trial. Two school officials also awaiting trial on charges of lying to a grand jury and not properly reporting suspected child abuse have also denied the allegations. Paterno was fired in the wake of the scandal and former university president Graham Spanier was also ousted.
The paper said the documents suggest that the governor‚??s staff was intent on the office‚??s reaction and monitoring the response from university officials and trustees. One exchange outlines efforts to tighten reporting policies within the commonwealth‚??s 14 state-owned universities. Penn State, while it receives state aid, is not a state-owned school.
‚??From PSU, we can see there is much confusion and uncertainty,‚?Ě wrote Dean Weber, director of the State System of Higher Education‚??s internal risk office.
David Saxe, an education professor at Penn State, wrote to criticize a lack of transparency on the campus.
‚??I urge you to do anything to change this culture . . . that has become Penn State,‚?Ě he said.
Corbett, who as attorney general initiated the investigation that led to the charges, was accused of failing to ‚??clean house‚?Ě in some letters, most of which arrived before the actions on Paterno and Spanier. Paterno‚??s firing prompted the most input, with hundreds protesting the coach‚??s ouster while others supported the decision. All were told that to contact Penn State because the governor ‚??does not have authority over the university‚??s internal personnel decisions.‚?Ě
Feedback changed, however, after the governor did a number of TV interviews and was the subject of a positive New York Times profile, the paper said.
The paper said no e-mails or other writings from Corbett are included, and parts of other documents were redacted. The governor‚??s office cited state law allowing it to withhold records relating to active investigations or an agency‚??s internal deliberations.
The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, meanwhile, reported that Paterno and his wife, Sue, gave $100,000 to a Penn State center in December in addition to their annual $100,000 gift to support the library and a fellows program at the university. The paper, citing a source close to the family, said the donation to the Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center was made just week after Paterno was fired. The center was named after Sue Paterno, a 1962 alumnae, in September 2010.