By Andrew Staub | PA Independent
HARRISBURG, Pa. — To borrow from Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s 2012 campaign mantra, it looks like Gov. Tom Corbett was a prosecutor, not a politician — at least when it came to investigating the now-convicted child predator, Jerry Sandusky.
A report commissioned by Kane and released Monday found no direct evidence electoral politics played a part in the three-year-long investigation, which began when Corbett was attorney general, continued as he ran for governor and gained momentum after he was elected in Nov. 2010.
NOT POLITICS AS USUAL: While Attorney General Kathleen Kane, shown above, suspected politics contributed to the drawn-out investigation into Jerry Sandusky, a report she commissioned found no evidence of that.
Kane’s office, however, did say “the investigation took too long because of crucial missteps and inexplicable delays in bringing a serial child molester to justice.”
Those findings, though, could be obscured by some of Kane’s own campaign-trail comments.
While running for attorney general, Kane told the Times-Tribune in Scranton that politics “probably” played a part in the delay to charge Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who worked under the late Joe Paterno.
On Monday, she sidestepped questions of whether she still believed that.
“The buck always stops with the leader, but in this case, don’t forget: There was no direct evidence, there was no email, there was no confession, there was no statement that indicated that the attorney general at the time did it for political reasons,” Kane said. “What it appeared to be is that there was a lack of urgency on the part of leadership. Why? We don’t know that. That’s going to be up to the public to decide.”
Sandusky was indicted on Nov. 4, 2011. That was more than 35 months after the Clinton County Children and Youth Services referred the matter to state police and 32 months after the attorney general’s office got involved.
While the question of whether politics played a role in the drawn-out investigation has long lingered, the target has always been on Corbett’s back, with Kane pointing out campaign contributions he received from board members with The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded and later used to make contact with victims.
On Tuesday, Kane was the one accused of playing politics. Prosecutors who convinced a jury to convict Sandusky almost exactly two years ago blasted the report.
Joseph McGettigan, the lead prosecutor, called the report a “good doorstop,” while fellow prosecutor Frank Fina labeled it a “political document” and a “face-saving statement” that followed Kane’s campaign-trail rhetoric.
Prosecutors on the case didn’t want notoriety but rather justice, an upset Fina told reporters. He questioned Kane’s contention that her review was prompted by “thousands” of citizens asking why the investigation into Sandusky took so long.
“Now, a politician is accusing of us of the most grotesque thing that you could possibly accuse somebody of,” he said. “Where’s the apology? That’s what we should be getting here.”
Special Deputy Attorney General H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. led the review.
Moulton’s report pointed to several issues that delayed Sandusky’s arrest, including failures of communication, a late realization that Sandusky had been previously investigated in 1998 and a “failure to take certain steps earlier in the investigation that proved fruitful later.”
Moulton noted there were “long stretches of time, particularly in 2010, during which little if any investigative activity apparently took place.”
Kane also took issue that it took from March 2009 until March 2010 for the attorney general’s office to recommend charging Sandusky, after basic steps such as searching Sandusky’s home were not taken.
While Kane has said she would not have taken the case to a grand jury, as prosecutors did under Corbett’s watch, Moulton’s report found it reasonable.
As he and Kane outlined the report, Corbett released a statement that said the report “reaffirms the integrity” of those who worked on the case. It was never about politics, he said.
“The Sandusky investigation was conducted with a single purpose: to ensure justice for the victims and families by taking a child predator off the streets,” Corbett said. “Nothing more. Nothing less.”
Staub can be reached at Andrew@PAIndependent.com. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.