By Michael Smerconish
Let me finish tonight with this.
Now that former FBI director Louis Freeh has delivered his report on the handling of Jerry Sandusky by Penn State University, it is time for some fact finding about the response by law enforcement — specifically, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.
Published reports, most notably at The Patriot-News where reporter Sara Ganim earned a Pulitzer for her Sandusky coverage, raise some troubling questions.
The case that finally brought down Sandusky was first reported by a high school student. The local District Attorney recused himself from handling the case due to a potential conflict, and it was referred to the state Attorney General's office, then headed by Tom Corbett, who was at the time running for governor of Pennsylvania.
The AG's office was then pursuing Bonusgate, an investigation of state municipal corruption. That effort required a significant commitment of resources. According to The Patriot-News, for the first year of the Sandusky probe, there was only one investigator assigned to the case. Moreover, it took that investigation a year to figure out that Sandusky was the subject of a 1998 probe for similar behavior.
And it took a year to learn that Sandusky had penned an oddly titled manuscript called Touched. A year? As Ganim noted: "A Google search of the name 'Jerry Sandusky' would have revealed the book in seconds." And it's significant because, ultimately, it was a roadmap for finding victims — many of whom were written about and even pictured in the book.
To state the obvious, when you have a suspected pedophile on the street, you need to move with all possible speed so as to protect children from assault. This case took three years to bring to conclusion from when the high school boy made his report to when Sandusky was arrested.
Critics have suggested that then-Attorney General Corbett drew out the Sandusky investigation until after his successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign had ended. Both Corbett and State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan reject those claims, saying that investigators proceeded cautiously in an effort to ensure they uncovered enough evidence to corroborate Victim 1's claims. That evidence finally came in early 2011, after Corbett was sworn in as governor and the investigative team dealing with the case grew from one to eight. Finally.
So with Judge Freeh having analyzed the response by Penn State to Sandusky, there is still need for an accounting of the way in which the case was handled by law enforcement.