A drawing of the Learning Center at The Center for Excellence for The Second Mile.
By Jon Schmitz Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gov. Tom Corbett this summer approved a $3 million state grant to The Second Mile, the charity founded by suspected child molester Jerry Sandusky, despite knowing about the sex abuse investigation that later resulted in charges against Mr. Sandusky.
The grant is now on hold, said Mr. Corbett's spokesman, Eric Shirk.
The grant would have helped pay for the first phase of the "Center for Excellence" at The Second Mile, which Mr. Sandusky, a former Penn State University assistant football coach, founded in 1977 to work with troubled children.
The center was a grand dream of Mr. Sandusky's that he said would offer "a sense of [permanence] and a place for our kids to call 'home.' " It would have classrooms, a gym, athletic fields and dormitory space.
According to correspondence from Mr. Corbett's budget secretary, Charles B. Zogby, the $3 million was first budgeted by the Legislature in 2010 and approved for release by former Gov. Ed Rendell a year ago.
A grant agreement was not completed before Mr. Corbett took office in January, and the administration decided to review that and other grants that were pending in the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, Mr. Zogby wrote.
"The Office of the Budget has completed its review of The Second Mile Learning Center project and I am pleased to inform you that Governor Corbett has approved the Commonwealth's commitment of $3,000,000 in RACP funding for this project," he wrote in a July 20 letter to Jack Raykovitz, Second Mile CEO until he resigned Monday.
Mr. Corbett as attorney general supervised an investigation that began in 2008 when a 15-year-old Clinton County boy came forward with complaints that Mr. Sandusky had sexually abused him. The governor spoke about the case in a live radio interview on Tuesday but was not questioned about the grant. He could not be reached to comment about it later.
Mr. Sandusky was removed from contact with children in The Second Mile's programs after notifying agency officials he was under investigation in 2008, the agency has said. He fully retired from the agency in 2010.
Mr. Shirk said no state money was disbursed. The grant was structured to provide reimbursements to the agency as construction proceeded. "It's suspended pending further review," he said Tuesday.
Mr. Sandusky touted the Center for Excellence in Second Mile annual reports in 2007 and 2008 and in his resignation letter in 2010. He said it was needed because the organization was growing and could no longer rely on borrowed space for its programs.
"This lack of dedicated space also hampers our ability to train volunteers and professionals so that they can make our programs available to even more children across Pennsylvania," he wrote in 2007.
The grant was an unusual departure for the agency, which raises money from corporations and private citizens to fund its operations and boasts that it gets no government funding.
Mr. Raykovitz resigned as The Second Mile's CEO and president on Monday, in the wake of the scandal that has Mr. Sandusky facing 40 counts of sex abuse involving eight children. Two top Penn State administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, face charges of failing to report abuse and perjury.
All three men have claimed they are innocent.
Dave Woodle, board vice chairman who has taken over day-to-day operation of The Second Mile, could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the status of the construction project.
One description said it was to have six phases that would take 25 to 30 years to complete. The first phase was a learning center that would have athletic fields around it.
In another development Tuesday, Mr. Corbett defended the amount of time it took for the attorney general's office to bring charges against Mr. Sandusky.
Some have questioned whether the investigation was sufficiently staffed in its earlier stages. Mr. Corbett, in a live interview on KDKA radio, said it takes time to gather evidence, interview witnesses and build a strong case.
"These investigations don't just jump up and give you the evidence right away," he told the station's Marty Griffin.
Asked if he was concerned that Mr. Sandusky might have victimized more children during the investigation, the governor said, "We have no knowledge one way or another, so of course you worry about that. But you have to have the evidence to bring the charges."
Mr. Griffin asked Mr. Corbett about Mr. Sandusky's TV interview on Monday night with NBC's Bob Costas, in which he denied being sexually attracted to young boys.
"I guess that's going to be determined in a court of law and not in the newspapers or on television," the governor said.
While noting that the investigation is continuing and raising the possibility that more witnesses and/or victims could come forward, Mr. Corbett declined comment on whether he expected more people to be charged in the case.