The investigation into Jerry Sandusky took too long, but it didn’t appear to be slowed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett for political reasons, according to a new report issued Monday.
The 339-page report was released on Monday morning by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane (D). She appointed H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. last year to lead the investigation, which focused on the three-year period leading up to charges being filed in November 2011.
Jerry Sandusky was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 young boys and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. The investigation into Sandusky also resulted in an overhaul of Penn State’s governance and heavy sanctions against the Penn State football program.
The new review examines the way the investigation was conducted, examining the overall pace as well as how Corbett managed the investigation while he was an attorney general campaigning for governor.
“This was a full and fair review,” Kane said in a statement. “The facts show an inexcusable lack of urgency in charging and stopping a serial sexual predator.”
In a response included in the report, prosecutors blamed “political opportunism and posturing” for the report’s existence. They also wrote that they stood by their choices because the investigation “led to the conviction on 45 counts of this state’s worst child molester.”
Here are three things we learned reading the report:
1. Investigators don’t think the Pennsylvania governor’s race played any role in the investigation
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Did a gubernatorial campaign impact the Sandusky investigation? The question emerged because Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) was the state’s attorney general in 2009 when the investigation began, leading people to wonder whether he slowed the pace of the investigation while campaigning for governor. (Kane has said she was asked about this repeatedly during her campaign for attorney general.) Corbett was elected in November 2010 and is running for reelection.
But a review of e-mails at the time and interviews of people involved in the investigation at the time “revealed no direct evidence that electoral politics influenced any important decision,” the report says. Corbett and prosecutors all said that their decisions relating to when to charge Sandusky were all focused on the best interests of the case and not the upcoming election.
“As I have said many times, this investigation was conducted appropriately and timely,” Corbett said in a statement Monday. “Because of the complexity of the case and for the sake of the victims, the investigators were careful to explore all evidence to the fullest extent. As made clear by the Moulton Report, this investigation was never about politics. It was always about the people victimized by this man.”
In addition, the new review didn’t find any evidence that contributions coming from people associated with Sandusky’s charity, the Second Mile, played a role in the pace of the investigation. Corbett’s campaign received more than $25,000 from Second Mile board members. The “puzzling” failure of investigators to contact Second Mile before January 2011 didn’t appear to originate with Corbett or his staff, the report said.
(The report notes that the investigation into “Bonusgate,” a scandal involving Democratic leaders in the Pennsylvania state house giving out millions of dollars in bonuses to staffers, may have exacerbated a shortage of resources in the attorney general’s office, but adds that it’s impossible to know if the energy poured into that investigation was in any way responsible for slowing the Sandusky investigation.)
2. Delays, communication failures and other headaches slowed the investigation
The report cites various failures of communication and other inaction as factors in the investigation’s slow pace. Investigators took more than two years after learning of some Sandusky allegations to ask the Penn State or State College police about prior allegations against him, which delayed “the single most productive investigative step” considerably, the report states. In addition, had investigators searched Sandusky’s home earlier or contacted his charity for participants earlier, he may have been charged earlier, the report says.
The failure to search his home earlier is cited as particularly indefensible, and among the report’s recommendations is that investigators should search the homes of alleged sexual predators as soon as possible.
It also singles out the slow, time-consuming effort necessary to try and get records from Penn State and the Second Mile as slowing the investigation (though only after December 2010, when the relevant subpoenas were first issued). Prosecutors issued a subpoena requesting some records from Penn State in December 2010, and those weren’t handed over until 2012 (after the charges had already been filed).
Bureaucratic issues are blamed for the length of time it took for investigators to revisit allegations that were made in 1998. For example, when the investigation shifted from a district attorney’s office to the office of the state’s attorney general, institutional knowledge of the 1998 investigation was not also passed along. Later, when a new attorney general entered office while the investigation was ongoing, she said it took months for her to receive a full briefing about the investigation.
3. There’s nothing new regarding Penn State
The Sandusky investigation is, for obvious reasons, incredibly closely associated with Penn State. But the new report specifically notes that it does not address many “vitally important” issues, namely the actions of Penn State and various school officials. Penn State is mentioned hundreds of times in the report, of course, along with the university’s slow response to the records subpoena.
Details on the university’s action and inaction can be found in the earlier report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh. That report found that Penn State’s leadership had “concealed Sandusky’s activities” from authorities. It also found that Joe Paterno, the former head football coach, and Graham Spanier, the former university president, knew about the 1998 investigation into allegations that Sandusky had inappropriately touched an 11-year-old boy in the Penn State showers.
You can read the entire Moulton report here: