Red-faced but speaking in measured tones, Corbett said he had no objections to either the next attorney general or the U.S. Justice Department conducting a review of actions he took in the case as state attorney general, the post he held before becoming governor in 2011.
He was replying to a reporter's question about his role having been raised as an issue in a Monday night debate between candidates for the attorney general's post. Also, Democratic legislators have called for a federal review of his actions.
If federal prosecutors want to launch an investigation, "let them have one," Corbett said. "This is all politics being played by the other party."
"I come from a business where we have to prove a case," he said. "I don't say anything until I know I can prove a case."
During Monday's debate, Democrat Kathleen Kane, who has pledged to review Corbett's handling of the case if elected, said that the use of a grand jury to take testimony in the investigation wasted too much time, and that she would have arrested Sandusky much sooner.
Her GOP opponent, David Freed, was less critical of Corbett but said he, too, would conduct a review of the case.
Corbett said the Sandusky investigation took a long time - nearly three years - because he wanted to nail down enough evidence to ensure a conviction. He suggested critics were unfairly assailing his reputation.
"I don't think anybody questions my personal integrity," Corbett said. "This becomes personal after a while."
He said he had been prosecuting pedophiles since he was an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County. "I'm not going to let a predator go," he said. "I was trying to bring the best case I could to take that person off the streets."
Corbett said Kane's position - that she would have arrested Sandusky right away based on one accuser - would have jeopardized the case.
"My personal belief is that the young man would never have survived a one-on-one preliminary hearing, let alone a trial," he said. "What proved that case was that we did eventually find witness after witness, victim after victim. . . . It was repetition, I'm convinced, that convinced that jury the man did what he did."
Corbett pointed to the verdict in the case as vindication of his approach. Sandusky, the former assistant Pennsylvania State University football coach, is serving a 30-to-60-year prison term after being convicted in June on 45 of 48 counts related to abuse of 10 adolescent boys.
For her part, Kane said Thursday that it was "unfortunate" that Corbett would be upset about legitimate questions raised by Pennsylvanians. "His reaction makes it clear to voters that the only candidate who will find the truth, based upon all the facts, will be me, not his handpicked candidate for attorney general," she said. Freed has rejected Kane's suggestions that Corbett "handpicked" him.
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