Second Mile calls off plans for probe

Posted: August 04, 2012

The troubled youth charity ensnared in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal has called off plans for an internal investigation, the nonprofit's chief said.

The decision this spring to close the Second Mile has eliminated the need for an exhaustive inquiry into what past leaders knew and when, said chief executive David Woodle, who has led the organization since the arrest of the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach last year.

"We're in a different situation now," Woodle said. "We're getting ready to go out of business."

The Second Mile, which Sandusky launched as a group foster home in 1977, has fallen on hard times since the arrest of its founder last year on charges he molested 10 boys met through the charity.

Donors have dried up, board members across the state fled, and the organization's longtime leader, Jack Raykovitz, resigned amid controversy.

According to a scathing grand jury presentment, Raykovitz first learned of allegations lodged against Sandusky in 2001. But it was not until a grand jury began investigating Sandusky that he pushed the former coach to shift his role from working with children to fund-raising. Sandusky did not retire from the organization until 2010.

In November, the charity's leadership hired former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham to lead an investigation into the organization's "internal policies, procedures, and processes" in the wake of the Sandusky case.

But the Second Mile announced its intention in May to sell off its State College headquarters and transfer all assets to Arrow Child and Family Ministries, a Houston-based charity that said it would continue to operate several programs in Pennsylvania. The plan awaits approval in Centre County Orphans Court.

The Second Mile is a shell of the statewide operator of summer camps and youth programs it once was.

Only nine core employees remain and the board has been reduced to a handful of members, though the organization forged ahead with scheduled camps this summer in State College and Downingtown, said Woodle.

"Parents and kids still wanted to participate," he said. "We had a lot of requests and hopefully we met their needs."

Woodle deflected questions about the promised internal investigation, saying the charity had hired Abraham primarily to assess the Second Mile's chances for survival after the Sandusky scandal. He said the decision to shut down was based on her recommendations.

In describing her role at a November news conference, the former district attorney outlined a much wider probe.

"We need to find out how deep this went, who knew about it, when they found out about it, and what was done or not done," she said. "How was it possible for little kids to be imperiled and we didn't know it?"

She declined to comment on the Second Mile when reached earlier this month.

Sandusky awaits sentencing on 45 counts of child sex abuse. Meanwhile, a judge has yet to set a hearing date on the Second Mile's proposal to transfer its assets, though lawyers representing several of Sandusky's victims have sought to block the move.

Woodle said that the charity would continue to cooperate with all external investigations, including an ongoing state grand jury probe.


Contact Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218 or jroebuck@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @jeremyrroebuck.

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