Criminal Justice

Delay in Sandusky charges was 'within acceptable bounds of prosecutorial discretion,' report says

There is no evidence that Pennsylvania’s current governor delayed the sexual abuse investigation of Jerry Sandusky for political reasons when the governor was the state attorney general, according to a report.

The report’s author, former federal prosecutor H. Geoffrey Moulton, said at a press conference on Monday that the real problem was that the office of then-Attorney General Tom Corbett barely used the grand jury before the probe ramped up in 2011. Corbett is now Pennsylvania’s governor.

“We found no direct evidence that electoral politics influenced any important decision made in the investigation,” Moulton said. “In fact, we found nothing … to indicate Attorney General Corbett made any decisions at all in the investigation.” The Legal Intelligencer, the New York Times, USA Today and the Philadelphia Inquirer have stories on the report (PDF) and news conferences.

Current Attorney General Kathleen Kane hired Moulton to look into the attorney general’s handling of the case during the nearly three-year investigation. Sandusky is serving a sentence of up to 60 years in prison for molesting 10 children while working as an assistant football coach at Penn State.

The decision not to bring early charges “appears to have fit within acceptable bounds of prosecutorial discretion, though other prosecutors might reasonably have decided differently,” the report said. The allegations by a single victim were referred to the attorney general’s office in March 2009. In March 2010, a prosecutor wrote a draft presentment based on the single victim, but Sandusky was not charged. Sandusky’s home was searched in June 2011 and he was arrested in November 2011.

Prosecutors told Moulton in a letter that moving to search Sandusky’s home more quickly and prosecuting without a full grand jury investigation would have jeopardized the admissibility of evidence, the Legal Intelligencer says. The evidence available in 2010 did not link alleged sexual abuse to Sandusky’s home, the prosecutors said.

In a press conference, Kane, a Democrat, was more critical than Moulton, the Philadelphia Inquirer says. She criticized “crucial missteps” and “inexplicable delays” by the former attorney general, a Republican. “The facts show an inexcusable lack of urgency in charging and stopping a serial child predator,” she said.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.