Swift action pledged in child abuse cases

Candidate reacts to Sandusky case

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HARRISBURG -- The Republican candidate for state attorney general said Monday that he was "pleased for the victims" when he heard the guilty verdict in the Jerry Sandusky case and, if he is elected, he pledged to bring swift justice in future child abuse cases.

"I was struck by the corroboration contained within the [grand jury] presentment and the similarity among the stories, and it seems to me that's what carried the day in court," Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said.

Mr. Freed, who was uncontested in the Republican primary in April for state attorney general, will face former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane in the fall general election.

He was asked about Friday's guilty verdict for Mr. Sandusky on 45 of 48 counts and other issues during his appearance Monday at the Pennsylvania Press Club's monthly luncheon.

One of his goals for the office, Mr. Freed said, would be to create a victims' rights unit, which could assist in investigations and prosecutions of child or elder abuse.

"When I'm attorney general, no child abuse case in Pennsylvania will fail to be brought in a timely manner because of lack of resources," Mr. Freed said. "Nor should any child abuse case go unpunished because the abused is too ashamed to come forward or too much time has gone by since their victimization took place."

Afterward, he said there's no "seamless process" for referring cases to the attorney general's office, characterizing the lack of an initial investigation of several incidents involving the former Penn State University assistant football coach as failures "by the system as a whole."

"I think the verdict speaks for itself, but what we need to do is make sure that as things evolve, we're ready to do it," Mr. Freed said.

Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said county district attorneys are authorized to refer cases to the state level when a conflict of interest exists or when they lack resources.

Mr. Frederiksen said the attorney general's office was able to pull in investigators from across its criminal bureau to handle the Penn State case.

Mr. Freed commended the House Judiciary Committee for approving a bill last week that would lift the statute of limitations in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.

No timetable currently exists for further votes on the measure. The GOP candidate said he would work with the Legislature if it is not completed this year.

Ms. Kane, Mr. Freed's opponent, bested former Bucks County congressman Patrick Murphy in the Democratic primary and talked in that contest about her experience prosecuting sex crimes.

She had no formal statement following the Sandusky verdict and could not be reached for comment Monday. During an MSNBC appearance several days before the verdict, she described the prosecution as presenting a "blockbuster" case.

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