Corbett faulted in probe pace
HARRISBURG — Democratic Attorney General candidate Kathleen Kane said on Friday that Gov. Tom Corbett, as the former top state prosecutor, started an “understaffed” investigation that took three years to get sexual predator Jerry Sandusky “off the streets.”
Corbett, the former Republican attorney general, accused Kane of speaking “without the facts” for political gain.
Kane has said there must be urgency to cases such as Sandusky’s and suggested the next attorney general needs to uncover any “mishandling” of the case. Corbett has been criticized for his prosecution of the former Penn State defensive coordinator, who was convicted last month of 45 counts of molesting 10 young boys.
Kane questioned whether Corbett’s political aspirations affected the pace of the case. Sandusky and two Penn State administrations were charged a little more than 10 months after he was elected governor in November 2010. In particular, she questioned the use of a statewide grand jury, which meets one week per month.
“If anybody is making this case political, it’s her (Kathleen Kane),” Corbett told the Tribune-Review on Friday. Corbett is backing Kane’s opponent, Republican David Freed — in fact, he endorsed him in the April primary, clearing the field.
“This isn’t about politics,” said Kane, a former deputy district attorney in Lackawanna County. Kane and Freed, the Cumberland County district attorney, square off in the November election.
Freed had no comment, his spokesman Tim Kelly said.
“I’m speaking as someone who has prosecuted child molesters and sexual predators,” said Kane. “My priority would have been to get Jerry Sandusky off the streets and prevent him from continuing to molest children. Instead, Governor Corbett started an understaffed investigation that took three years to get Sandusky off the streets.”
Newspaper reports have said one investigator was assigned to the case; Corbett said there were several. A manpower shortage necessitated assigning two narcotics agents to the case, he said.
Corbett began the investigation of Sandusky but turned it over to Acting Attorney General William H. Ryan Jr. in January 2011, when Corbett took the oath as governor. The state Senate confirmed his handpicked successor Linda Kelly in May 2011. Sandusky was charged in November.
Corbett said he felt it was odd Kane had so many questions about his handling of the case yet stated on MSNBC last month that the attorney general’s office “put in a blockbuster case” on Sandusky.
It’s too soon — there are not enough facts — to measure the fallout for Corbett, Kane or Freed, said Tom Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.
“In the whole Paterno-Sandusky mess, Corbett is in it whether he likes it or not,” Baldino said, referring to former head coach Joe Paterno. A report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s law firm last week said top Penn State officials including Paterno concealed Sandusky’s actions from the public for more than a decade.
“The Freeh report clarified some things but raised other questions,” Baldino said. “There are so many misconceptions. We don’t have all the facts.
“For a candidate like Kane to raise it is risky. Corbett also has to be careful,” Baldino said. It’s an issue the public is zeroed in on, he says. But there’s likely no judgment yet, Baldino said, “on what could have been done and what was done.
Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporter for the Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 and [email protected].