By Angela Couloumbus and Craig R. McCoy, The Philadelphia Inquirer
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said Monday that the state’s three-year investigation into pedophile Jerry Sandusky took too long because of “crucial missteps” and “inexplicable delays” by her predecessors.
“The facts show an inexcusable lack of urgency in charging and stopping a serial child predator,” Kane said in a statement, noting that the investigation only picked up in the last of the three years it took to investigate, and ultimately charge, the former assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University.
Kane’s comments came as she opened a news conference to release a long-awaited report into prosecutors’ handling of the case, an inquiry that she had made a cornerstone of her 2012 campaign for office.
While the report that she commissioned raises questions about certain lulls and delays in the inquiry, it ultimately concludes that the prosecutors on the case had reason to take their time to gather evidence against Sandusky and build a case around multiple victims.
It also does not fault them for using a grand jury to investigate Sandusky — and found no evidence that politics or a lack of resources influenced the investigation.
The Sandusky investigation began in 2009, while Gov. Tom Corbett was Attorney General, and continued while Corbett was running for the state’s highest office in 2010. Sandusky, a onetime top assistant to Joe Paterno, wasn’t charged until November 2011.
Kane’s review “revealed no direct evidence that electoral politics influenced any important decision made in the Sandusky investigation,” the report states.
In her 2012 bid for office, Kane questioned whether Corbett deliberately slowed the investigation for political purposes. Instead of using a grand jury, “I would have had (Sandusky) arrested after the first victims came forward,” she said then.
Kane, a Democrat, also had suggested that Corbett, a Republican, delayed the probe to avoid angering voters and donors. Politics, she told one newspaper editorial board, “probably” drove his decisions.
On Monday, she defended her decision to undertake the review, even though it did not unearth any proof of political influence. “Why those delays took place, we don’t know,” she said, but added that it was important for her to present the facts to the public and let it decide.
The report, which took 16 months to complete and runs, with appendices, more than 330 pages long, was authored by Geoffrey Moulton, a former federal prosecutor and law professor.
Corbett was interviewed during the inquiry but chose not to write a response to be attached to Kane’s report.
A spokesman for him on Monday said: “The investigation was conducted with a single purpose, which was to ensure justice for the victims and their families. It was a thorough and thoughtful review and in the end, a child predator can no longer victimize anyone else, and was convicted on 45 of 48 counts.”
Moulton’s review notes that prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s Office felt strongly that testimony from the first boy to accuse Sandusky would likely not have been enough to convict the former assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University.
But it also questions some of their decisions along the way. For instance, the report points out that prosecutors took too long to take certain investigative steps, including gathering reports on Sandusky from other law enforcement agencies.
And it notes that one of the prosecutors in the case was prepared to charge Sandusky in 2010 — and had even drafted charges — but that she could not get an answer from superiors as to whether to proceed with an arrest.
It also identifies several months in 2010 when the inquiry appeared to have ground to a halt.
Moulton’s report also notes that prosecutors waited too long to ask Penn State to turn over any records of complaints against Sandusky, who spent two decades at the school and maintained a campus office even after stepping down from his coaching post.
Photo via WikiCommons
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