Attorney General Kane says she misspoke in reaction to Sandusky report
June 25, 2014 10:50 PM
Bradley C Bower/Associated Press
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks about a report on the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation Monday in Harrisburg.
By Angela Couloumbis, Craig R. McCoy and Jeremy Roebuck / Philadelphia Inquirer
HARRISBURG — On Monday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said there were “inexplicable delays” in the Jerry Sandusky investigation and suggested that may have set the stage for two more young men to be victimized.
She said the two men told prosecutors they had been abused while the state was undertaking its 33-month investigation. Ms. Kane said she could not give details except to say the two were not among the 10 victims Sandusky was later charged with sexually assaulting.
Late Tuesday, Ms. Kane’s office acknowledged that she misspoke — that Sandusky had indeed been charged with abusing one of the young men. In fact, prosecutors had called him to the stand during the 2012 trial and a jury convicted Sandusky of abusing him.
On Tuesday, one day after Ms. Kane released a report that failed to affirm many of her complaints about the Sandusky investigation, the focus turned to Ms. Kane herself and her new charge that a bogged-down investigation may have enabled Sandusky to strike again.
The head of the Pennsylvania State Police said he was baffled by her reference to those victims. Her office, for its part, released a pair of brief statements hours apart that seemed to raise as many questions as they answered.
Sources close to Ms. Kane said that the attorney general, in her remarks about two other victims Monday, was actually referring to a young man who came to be known as Victim No. 9 at the Sandusky trial.
Court records reviewed by The Inquirer suggest that Ms. Kane glossed also over other key aspects of this victim’s story.
Ms. Kane said flatly that the man said he was abused in 2009 — stressing this was months after the investigation began. But court documents provide a range of years for when he claimed to have been assaulted.
Prosecutors in court documents said the abuse ended in 2008. On the stand, the victim was unsure about the year it ended. In a 2013 lawsuit, he claimed the abuse continued until 2009.
Moreover, the victim testified that the abuse began in 2005 — three years before any investigation of Sandusky began. The victim himself did not come forward until 2011.
Thus, a more rapid arrest of Sandusky might have ended the abuse sooner, but according to his own claims it would not have prevented it.
Ms. Kane’s office for the second day declined to provide any further detail about her allegations, but it did issue two statements. The second, on Tuesday evening, confirmed that she misspoke about one of the victims. That statement came hours after one signed by four senior aides, but not Ms. Kane.
“It is absolutely true and factual that evidence exists of two individuals who allege they were victimized into the fall of 2009,” the first read. “It is shameful for others to re-victimize these individuals by denying their existence.”
Earlier in the day, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan had called on Ms. Kane to back up her assertion that two accusers had somehow been abused by Sandusky after prosecutors launched their case in 2009. In an interview, Commissioner Noonan said he was surprised to hear Ms. Kane make the claim Monday, so he immediately brought it up with his investigators, who had worked side-by-side with the Attorney General’s Office during the Sandusky investigation. They, too, were baffled.
“They don’t know who she’s talking about — and I don’t know who she’s talking about,” said Commissioner Noonan, who in 2011 led the unit that investigated Sandusky.
As to the second victim Ms. Kane had described — the one who was not part of the Sandusky trial — the attorney general’s office stood by the claim that the victim came forward in 2012 and that prosecutors never charged Sandusky with abusing him. But it declined to release details, saying prosecutors did want to harm the victim anew.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank G. Fina, who led the Sandusky investigation, said he was only aware of one person who made allegations in 2012 but did not become part of the trial. Mr. Fina said the accuser had once claimed to have been abused in 2008, and another time said it was 2009, before saying he was unsure when it occurred.
Mr. Fina said the man’s uncertainty was one factor among many that made him a far from reliable witness, and why investigators ultimately chose not to prosecute Sandusky on that claim.
Ms. Kane on Monday said she would not discuss any credibility judgments made by Mr. Fina’s team and that, unless victims were discredited, “we believe them.”
Ms. Kane’s assertions Monday came as she released the much-anticipated report on why her predecessors took nearly three years to complete the investigation. That question had been a cornerstone of Ms. Kane’s successful 2012 run for office.
During the campaign, Ms. Kane, a Democrat, repeatedly asked whether her predecessor, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, then attorney general, slowed the investigation for political purposes.
In his 166-page report, H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr., a law professor and former federal prosecutor, said that complaint of political interference was invalid. Nor did Mr. Moulton endorse her assertion that Mr. Fina made a mistake using a grand jury to build a case involving multiple victims.
His report made no mention of the two victims Ms. Kane described.
Mr. Fina, who has also clashed with Ms. Kane over her decision to shut down a political sting he supervised involving Philadelphia Democrats, called Ms. Kane’s claim on the Sandusky victims “completely false.”
And he sharply criticized Mr. Moulton’s inquiry for steering clear of what Mr. Fina called an obviously critical issue: Did any delays in the case possibly set the stage for new victimizations?
Mr. Fina insisted the answer is no. “It makes no sense,” he said. “I don’t understand how this is remotely a thorough investigation if he was restricted somehow in looking at that kind of information. That is just ridiculous.”
Mr. Moulton, however, faulted Mr. Fina’s team for waiting until 2011 to search Sandusky’s home and to gather highly damaging evidence from local and campus police about Sandusky.
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