AG Kane Doesn't Rule Out Political Influence Despite Lack of Evidence
Attorney General Kathleen Kane says she can't rule out the possibility that politics influenced the timeline of the Jerry Sandusky investigation -- despite a review that concluded there's no evidence to prove politics was at play.
Kane addressed reporters Monday morning in the state capitol after her office released a report that says it took too long to investigate the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse crimes.
At issue is how the attorney general's office, under the leadership of Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general at the time, handled the investigation of Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach who is now a convicted pedophile. Sandusky is serving 30-60 years in prison. He was convicted on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.
When running for office, Kane, a Democrat, promised to investigate how authorities handled the case, at least in part to see if decisions were politically motivated. Corbett, a Republican, was running for governor at the time.
The report states there is no evidence to support the speculation that politics influenced decisions in the investigation, other than what the attorney general's office descries as unexplainable delays before executing a search warrant at Sandusky's home and charging Sandusky. At the same time, the report concludes that the decision not to file charges sooner fits "within acceptable bounds of prosecutorial discretion, though other prosecutors might reasonably have decided differently."
While addressing the media Monday, Kane declined to issue an apology to Corbett for her previous comments that implied the length of the investigation may have been politically motivated.
"What this report says is there was no direct evidence that it was politically motivated," Kane says. "There are serious questions as to why those delays occurred ... where was there virtual inactivity for 18 months ... I said from the beginning that we need to ask the questions and I don't think anybody should apologize for asking questions."
Ultimately, Kane says it's up to the public to determine the motivation behind what her office says are delays in the progression of the case.
The report alleges that between March and August 2010 authorities made no effort to locate additional victims. During that time, investigators did not interview witnesses or serve subpoenas, nor revisit the idea of searching Sandusky's home or look for earlier allegations of misconduct.
The report says the decision by the attorney general's office to locate more victims before executing a search warrant or filing charges help explain the delay. However, the report says several factors contributed to the delay in locating more victims, "including:
- "miscommunication at the outset,"
- requirements that child abuse allegations that are determined to be unfounded must be expunged from court records
- "the failure to take certain steps earlier in the investigation that proved to be fruitful later."
Special Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Moulton Jr., who drafted the report, says while some people within the investigation speculated delays in the case may have been politically motivated he did not find evidence to support the concern.
"Despite that internal speculation ... the report explains that we found no direct evidence that electoral politics influenced any important decision made in the investigator," says Moulton.
The report indicates authorities did not search Sandusky's home for more than two years after the attorney general's office received the case. The investigators in the case stand by that decision.
William Ryan, Richard Sheetz, Frank Fina, Randy Feathers and Joseph McGettigan – all attorney general investigators involved with the Sandusky case – issued a joint response to the report June 11.
The group argues that when they received the case, the initial claims were varied and uncorroborated and executing a search warrant at that point risked suppression of the warrant.
"The costs of such suppression would have been enormous," the group states. "Suppression ... would not have only meant the loss of any evidence acquired at (Sandusky's) residence, but also the loss o the ability to ever charge Sandusky for any victims subsequently identified as a result of information or evidence found in his residence ... "
Still, Kane says the reason there were delays in the case remains unknown in her eyes.
"This report found no direct evidence, no email, no confession, no statement from anyone indicating they were told to slow down (the case)," Kane says. "Why those delays took place, we don't know the answer to that. We don't know what was in their head."