Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - A highly anticipated review of the child sex abuse case against Jerry Sandusky released on Monday found delays in prosecuting the former Penn State football coach but no evidence of political interference by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett during his time as attorney general.
Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of molesting 10 boys over 15 years and is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years.
The report, compiled by former federal prosecutor Geoffrey Moulton, said there were “inexplicable delays in bringing a serial child molester to justice”.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who released the report, has argued criminal charges should have been brought sooner and that Corbett failed to protect children for more than two years.
Two boys became new victims of Sandusky in 2009, months after the attorney general began to investigate, she said at a news conference. They were not among the 10 boys Sandusky stood trial for abusing, nor were they mentioned in the report.
“There was a lack of urgency on the part of leadership,” she said.
In a separate development on Monday, an independent hearing examiner recommended that Sandusky should be allowed to keep his state pension of roughly $60 000 a year despite his 45 child sex abuse convictions,
Finding that state rules for forfeiting pensions due to sex crimes took effect in 2004 - and that Sandusky was not a Penn State employee at that time having retired in 1999 - the examiner said the former assistant football should have his pension reinstated.
The report released by Kane said an assistant attorney general prepared charging documents based on grand jury testimony of a single victim against Sandusky as early as March 2010, more than a year and a half before he was arrested.
Her supervisors in the attorney general's office overruled her, believing testimony of a lone victim would be “insufficient against a community icon like Sandusky” and that a failed prosecution would make it difficult to proceed if other victims came forward, it said.
They wanted investigators to find more victims, despite fears that a delay could allow Sandusky to continue, it said.
Randy Feathers, a former regional director for the attorney general who oversaw the Sandusky investigators, was sceptical of Kane's claim and said added victims would have figured prominently in the review, given its concern over urgency.
“Nobody involved in the investigation has any knowledge of a credible victim who was molested during that time,” Feathers said. “We have no idea what she is talking about.”
The report said the investigation was delayed also by difficulty getting documents from The Second Mile, a charity for troubled youth that Sandusky ran and found some victims, and Penn State, which did not turn over a police report involving a 1998 child sex abuse incident.
Investigators say finding that report led to the discovery of four more victims.
Sandusky's arrest rocked the world of college football and led to accusations that Corbett, who was attorney general when the investigation began, slowed the case to avoid alienating potential campaign donors.
The governor, in a statement, said the report “reaffirmed the integrity” of prosecutors.
“As I have said many times, this investigation was conducted appropriately and timely,” he said. “As made clear by the Moulton report, this investigation was never about politics. It was always about the people victimised by this man.”
Sandusky worked from 1969 through 1999 under legendary longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in the wake of the scandal and who died in January 2012.
Several Pennsylvania prosecutors said the review reeked of politics. “To us, career professionals who investigated and prosecuted this case, the report was clearly born of political opportunism and posturing,” they wrote in an addendum.
Corbett, a Republican, has struggled with poor approval ratings and is seen as a highly vulnerable incumbent.
Penn State's former president, former athletic director and former vice-president face charges including endangering the welfare of children, obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy. - Reuters