Tom Corbett, now Pennsylvania’s governor, missed "crucial" opportunities as attorney general for an earlier prosecution of Jerry Sandusky, the Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach now in prison for molesting children, the state's top prosecutor said.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said delays by Corbett, his staff and law enforcement were "inexcusable." She said an earlier prosecution may have saved two victims from alleged abuse at Sandusky's hands.
"There wasn't that sense of urgency to get Sandusky off the streets," Kane said at a press conference Monday in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital. "If different tactics were taken and if different routes were chosen and Sandusky was in jail, of course there wouldn't be more victims."
Sandusky, charged in 2011, was convicted of abusing boys and is serving a prison term of at least 30 years. Corbett delayed the decision on prosecuting the case in 2010 when he was attorney general, according to a report released today by Kane. Corbett was elected governor in 2010.
"This investigation was never about politics," Corbett, a Republican, said today in a statement. "As a prosecutor and now governor, I have dedicated my life's work to protect all victims of crime, especially the victims of sexual abuse."
Kane's report, which was prepared for her by Geoffrey Moulton Jr., a former federal prosecutor, describes an investigation plagued by missteps. It covers the period from the initial complaint in November 2008 by a 15-year-old high school student through the filing of charges against Sandusky, 70, in November 2011.
Investigators failed to conduct a search of Sandusky's home in State College, Pa., until June 2011, despite an investigator's suggestion that one be conducted in September 2009, according to the report. The search uncovered photographs of Sandusky's victims and a list of boys' names associated with a charity he used to find and groom his victims.
"If a search warrant had been executed under seal, they would have found corroborating evidence and found additional victims," Kane, a Democrat, said. "The case took longer than it could have or should have."
While the report concludes that the decision not to bring charges in 2010 "appears to have fit within acceptable bounds of prosecutorial discretion," it says other prosecutors would have decided differently.
The case led to the firings of Penn State President Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, who headed the school's football program for 46 years.
Paterno died in January 2012. Spanier faces trial along with two former university officials on charges they conspired to hide Sandusky's abuse to protect the school's reputation.
Penn State announced in October that it will pay $59.7 million to 26 victims. Separately, the school has spent more than $69.8 million through Dec. 31 to manage the fallout from the scandal, according to an accounting posted on its website. Expenses include $24 million for two of five payments on a $60 million fine imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
After winning her party’s nomination for attorney general in 2012, Kane made the handling of the case a campaign issue. A former Lackawanna County prosecutor, she is the first woman and first Democrat elected to the job.
Her review focuses on law enforcement, child protective services and school officials. It doesn't address Penn State's handling of early allegations or the decision by a local district attorney not to file charges against Sandusky in 1998.
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