Charges from Sandusky report, rebuttals

Frank G. Fina , former top state prosecutor, takes issue with allegations about how the case was handled. BRADLEY C. BOWER / AP
Frank G. Fina , former top state prosecutor, takes issue with allegations about how the case was handled. BRADLEY C. BOWER / AP
Posted: June 25, 2014

HARRISBURG - To Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, the prosecutors who pursued child molester Jerry Sandusky at best lacked urgency and at worst let Sandusky attack again.

To former top state prosecutor Frank G. Fina and his old team, Kane's accusations are more than just groundless. They call Kane a desperate politician who has besmirched career law-enforcement professionals with reckless, even "mind-boggling" allegations.

In the state Capitol on Monday, Kane and Fina went at it in a pair of dueling news conferences, offering radically variant descriptions of key turning points in the criminal investigation of the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach. The occasion for their joust was the release of the 166-page report that Kane commissioned into how Fina and other officials handled the allegations that ended with Sandusky's 2012 conviction for sexually assaulting 10 boys.

Here is a look at the three key allegations in the report and rebuttals.

The allegation: While the investigation languished, Sandusky attacked again.

In a bombshell moment at her news conference, Kane contended that while Fina dawdled in building a case, Sandusky molested two more boys.

Kane asserted that Sandusky - though he knew he was under investigation - sexually assaulted two additional victims in the fall of 2009.

That would have been about six months after Fina, then a chief deputy state attorney general, had begun supervising the inquiry.

Kane suggested that her administration found the victims reliable, saying, "Until we have anything to the contrary, we believe them."

She said the two victims came forward to Fina's team before she took office in 2013, and added, "Whether the prior team made any decisions as to their credibility, I'm not going to discuss."

Her spokesman, J.J. Abbott, said later he could not explain why the two had not been included with the 10 other victims when prosecutors finally brought allegations against Sandusky in late 2012, or provide any more information about them.

The rebuttal:

Fina said was flabbergasted by Kane's statement about the additional victims. "It's fabricated," he said.

Of any suggestion that prosecutors had credible evidence that Sandusky had attacked two new victims in 2009, Fina said, "It did not happen."

He said Kane had tossed a last bit of mud because former federal prosecutor H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr., whom she picked to run the inquiry into the Sandusky investigation, had failed to substantiate so many of her earlier allegations, such as that former Attorney General Tom Corbett had ordered Fina to slow down the pace of the probe.

Former state prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, who served with Fina as the courtroom prosecutor at Sandusky's trial, also said Kane was wrong. "We filed this case, and we don't know what she's talking about," he said, standing next to Fina in Harrisburg.

According to Fina, his investigators had interviewed one other young man who gave a variety of years as the time he had been attacked, including 2009, before saying he was unsure precisely what year he had been assaulted.

This man's uncertainty about dates was only one factor among several that made him an unreliable witness, Fina said.

If Kane was referring to this man, Fina said, she had no business suggesting that he was a credible victim.

Asked for comment on Fina's response, J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Kane, said, "She stands by her statement."

Moulton, who joined Kane at the news conference to unveil the results of his inquiry, could not shed any light on the matter. He said the question of whether Sandusky re-offended while under investigation was outside the scope of his inquiry.

The allegation:  

Too long a delay in searching Sandusky's home.

In his report, Moulton said that Fina had waited far too long to search Sandusky's home, not doing so until June 2011 - 21 months after state prosecutors took up the case. Kane called that delay "unexcused and inexcusable."

Moulton said prosecutors routinely win approval for search warrants based on testimony from only one victim. He faulted Fina's team for not seeking court approval to search Sandusky's home many months earlier. The office first knew of a Sandusky victim in early 2009.

The rebuttal:

In response, Fina said his worry in 2009 and 2010 was that a judge, perhaps on appeal, would strike down the search warrant as based on "stale" evidence - the victim had first given his account five months before the attorney general took up the case - and perhaps toss any evidence that had been seized.

Fina argued that the warrant application, when finally filed in 2011, carried fresh information about Sandusky, including allegations that he had a wide circuit of victims.

In that search, Moulton said at the news conference, state police found "unquestionably valuable evidence," including photographs of some victims and a list of other youngsters with names of two marked with asterisks who were also victimized. It appears that the search turned up potent information - but material that was essentially corroborative.

The pictures were not of a sexual nature and were of previously identified victims. One of the "asterisk" victims was also previously known; the other came forward months later - and only after Sandusky had been arrested for assaulting other victims.

The allegation:

Investigators waited too long to obtain local police reports.

Moulton also faulted investigators for waiting until January 2011 before obtaining going to local police in State College, home of Penn State, and campus police to seek documents about any previous investigation of Sandusky for sexual assault.

This contact with local and campus police ultimately produced documents from 1998 that, in turn, led to the discovery of four more Sandusky victims. In his report, Moulton called obtaining those documents "the single most productive investigative step" of the entire case, and said it was "difficult to fathom" why investigators waited so long to seek the material.

The rebuttal:

In an interview Monday, Fina said he believed investigators had sought the material much earlier - perhaps in 2009 - but had been told falsely that no records existed.

It was until late 2010, he said, that he was able to shake what amounted to a cover-up after a tipster began providing copies of documents from 1998.


cmccoy@phillynews.com

215-854-4821

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