New Castle News

Closer Look

November 30, 2013

Sandusky prosecution review continues

HARRISBURG — Ten months later, the state attorney general’s office is still reviewing how prosecutors handled the Jerry Sandusky investigation at Penn State and whether delays allowed the former assistant football coach to continue molesting children.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, took office in January. Kane promised in her campaign that she would ferret out the facts surrounding the handling of the Sandusky investigation by her predecessors — including Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Chief among her questions was: Why did it take the attorney general’s office nearly three years to charge Sandusky?

Sandusky was arrested in November 2011, 11 months after Corbett took office as governor.

As Corbett ratchets up his re-election campaign, Joe Peters, a spokesman in Kane’s office, said there is no timeline for completing the review.

Kane appointed Geoffrey Moulton, a former federal prosecutor to conduct the review. In the months since, Moulton has billed the state $55,781, at rates of $72.24 and $74.41 an hour, Peters said.

“Kane has made a commitment that this matter will receive whatever length of time is necessary for a full and complete review,” Peters said.

Corbett was the attorney general for most of the time that investigators pieced together the case against Sandusky, which included his 2010 campaign for governor. Corbett has cited the successful prosecution of Sandusky as proof that the state investigation was effective, and he has denied that the probe was delayed so it wouldn’t become public while he was running for governor.

Political analysts said that the longer it takes for the attorney general to release her report, the greater obligation she will have to reveal something that makes the wait worthwhile.

The public won’t know how wide-ranging and in-depth the review has been until Kane releases the findings, said Terry Madonna, professor of public affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster.

However, with Kane approaching the end of her first year in office, there will be increasing calls for the attorney general to more fully disclose what her investigator has found, Madonna said.

The attorney general could face questions if the report drags into 2014 and there are few damaging findings, said Chris Borick, professor of political science at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.

Those would include questions about the time and expense of the review and the justification for launching the probe in the first place.

Thomas Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, said the investigation’s timing won’t be a problem for most of the public as long as the findings are released by next summer.

Most citizens won’t become fully engaged in the looming race for governor until Labor Day, Baldino said.

“Issuing the report in September or October would weaken the report’s credibility because the AG’s opponents and critics would decry it as a political document,” Baldino said.

No matter when the report is release, he added, Kane could alleviate some of the anticipation and skepticism by release a summary ahead of time.

(Email: jfinnerty@cnhi.com)

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