Kane’s office backtracks on prosecution in email scandal
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen Kane has not decided whether to prosecute anyone in a scandal over the email exchange of pornography by state government employees, a spokeswoman said Thursday, pulling back an earlier statement about whether anyone could be charged over child pornography.
“When I said that the Pennsylvania attorney general has decided not to prosecute regarding the emails as pornography — including depictions of children contained in some emails — I misspoke,” spokeswoman Renee Martin said.
A day earlier, Martin had said there was no child pornography in the hundreds of emails and, had there been, someone would have been charged. But an outside lawyer for Kane, Lanny Davis, said Thursday that Martin was not in a position to say that, and no decision on the matter has been made by prosecutors. An internal review by Geoffrey Moulton, a former federal prosecutor whom Kane hired, determined that none of the images rose to the level of child pornography.
Neither Davis nor Martin would say that they believe child pornography was involved.
To underscore the position that some sort of prosecution could be possible, they pointed to an Oct. 27 published opinion regarding a state Supreme Court justice’s suspension over the emails.
In it, Chief Justice Ronald Castille mentioned a video of an adult that he said “is clearly obscene and may violate the Crimes Code section on obscenity.”
Reporters’ questions about child pornography were set off by a Tuesday TV interview given by Kane.
In the interview, Kane seemed to suggest the emails in question had contained child pornography. She told the interviewer that the emails included “hard-core, graphic, sometimes violent emails that had a string of videos and pictures depicting sometimes children, old women. Some of them involved violent sexual acts against women.”
Kane did not elaborate on that comment, and she was not pressed by the interviewer. In any case, no one who had viewed the emails to that point had described them as having involved child pornography.
The week has brought a series of eyebrow-raising developments for the attorney general.
On Monday, Kane testified for 2½ hours in front of a grand jury investigating whether her office had breached grand-jury secrecy in a separate case.
Martin’s statement on Thursday said Kane can’t elaborate on the email scandal because of a court order in the grand-jury secrecy investigation. The email scandal already has cost a handful of government officials their jobs, including the Supreme Court justice and Pennsylvania’s environmental protection secretary.
Kane has said her office initially discovered pornographic and explicit videos, images and jokes in hundreds of emails during an examination of how state prosecutors handled the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse case under her predecessors — a review she promised when she campaigned for the office two years ago.