Report: 'Crucial missteps' delayed Sandusky probe

Report: 'Crucial missteps' delayed Sandusky probe

Credit: (Photo: Matt Rourke, AP)

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is taken from the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., in October 2012.


by John Bacon, USA TODAY

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 4:04 PM

A report reviewing the investigation of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky found the investigation was delayed by "crucial missteps and inexplicable delays in bringing a serial child molester to justice," Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Monday.

"This was a full and fair review," Kane said. "The facts show an inexcusable lack of urgency in charging and stopping a serial sexual predator."

The report, however, found no evidence that politics influenced the 32-month state probe.

The abuse scandal rocked the university and the state. Joe Paterno, the school's iconic head coach, was fired shortly after Sandusky was charged in 2011. Paterno died in January 2012, months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Sandusky, 70, was convicted in June 2012 of 45 criminal counts involving abuse over a 15-year period. Several young men testified that Sandusky would shower with them, grope them, and in some cases have oral and anal sex with them.

The state attorney general's office became involved in the investigation in early 2009, when Gov. Tom Corbett was attorney general. Corbett, a Republican, was running for governor in 2010.

Kane, while running for attorney general in 2012, implied that Corbett may have slowed the investigation for political reasons while running for office. Corbett denied the claims, blaming the delays on the immense scope of the investigation and the hesitancy among some witnesses to talk to prosecutors.

Kane, a Democrat, ordered the review after taking office. Law professor and former federal prosecutor Geoff Moulton, brought in to lead the probe, provided some support for Corbett's claim.

"We found no direct evidence that electoral politics influenced any important decision made in the investigation," Mouton said Monday. "In fact, we found nothing ... to indicate Attorney General Corbett made any decisions at all in the investigation."

Corbett issued a statement Monday saying the investigation was conducted with the victims at the forefront.

"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. Nothing more. Nothing less," the statement said. "This investigation was never about politics. It was always about the people victimized by this man."

Kane, however, stressed that no "direct evidence" of politics was found. "The report documents that more investigative work took place in just one month in 2011 than in all of either 2009 or 2010," Kane said.

She said the unexplained delays, such as failing to obtain a search warrant for Sandusky's home early in the investigation, may have delayed his arrest. That may have resulted in more abuse, she said.

Sandusky has admitted showering with the boys but has denied wrongdoing. He has been pursuing appeals while serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence.

Three former Penn State officials, including ousted former president Graham Spanier, also face criminal charges related to an alleged coverup that prosecutors say temporarily shielded Sandusky from law enforcement scrutiny.

Penn State agreed to pay $60 million to dozens of sexual abuse victims. The NCAA also handed down stiff sanctions against the university, including a $60 million fine, temporary reduction in football scholarships and a bowl ban.